Maximal grazing with automatic milking


The farm management is aimed at maximizing the share of grazed grass on the diet of dairy cows. Farmers have increased the pasture area by building a cow tunnel under the road. Pasture represents 80 per cent of dairy cow diet for 3 or 4 months and 30 per cent during autumn months. This management allows farmers to de-crease feeding cost and to reduce milking labor.

After having exchanged 4 hectares with a neighbor, farmers have increased grazing area of 11 hectares by building a cow tunnel under the road. Cows have a continued access to the robot.

The cow traffic is guided with a drafting gate to allow cows to go to and from the barn to pastures.

Reason for the innovation

By combining automatic milking and grazing, farmers want to decrease feeding cost.

He increases grazing area by using a cow tunnel under the road.

Cow traffic : using two paddocks per 24 hours (day and night paddocks) entice cows to go to pasture.

One water trough is located on the barn. No water is available in the fields.

Heifers are used to rotational grazing.

Farm description


This plain Farm is located in western France, in the department of Maine-et-Loire.

  • Soils: Clayed-loam
  • Climate: temperate oceanic with a summer drought

Grassland management

  • Grazing management type: rotational grazing
  • Grazable area reaches 21 hectares, shared in paddocks of 0,8 ha
  • Cows spend two days per day paddock and four nights per night paddock.


  • Annual Work Unit: 2
  • Conversion to organic farming in progress
  • Agricultural area: 100 ha UAA
    • 55 ha temporary grasslands
    • 20 ha permanent grasslands
    • 12 ha corn silage
    • 13 ha cereals and protein crops consumed on the farm
  • Herd: 68 Holstein cows—120 LU
  • Stocking rate: 1.2 LU/ha main forage area

Animal performance

  • Milk production per head: 6 500 L /year

Why it is working

Farmer’s experience of grazing management : regular grass growth observations and measures.

Farmers have accepted a reduced milk production to enhance feeding cost.

A gradual implementation: farmers visited many other farms before starting their project.

A strong motivation to increase grazing area: land exchange and building of boviduc (tunnel to cross the road).

Automatic milking system is not saturated.

Additional information

Farming system

conventional farming, organic farming

Domains of innovation

farm system, grazing management system, landscape

Main types of animal

dairy cattle



Product type

Farmer portrait


English, French

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