Combining barn drying – storage, fast rotational stocking and product processing

Description

Pierre Cossement and his wife Véronique have set up a particularly efficient autonomous dairy production system, based on fast rotational grazing, barn hay
drying, processing and marketing products on the farm. His business model, guided by the search for autonomy, cross-cutting and integrated vision of the different farm dimensions, is innovative.

Barn hay drying, combined with rotational grazing, is an important factor of autonomy
that promotes animal health and quality of milk for cheese processing.

 

Difficulty, after 20 years (90-07), when deciding to change type of farm, to end up with a herd selected mainly for intensive production => necessary
adaptation => replace the selected animals (case of consciousness, difficulty, loyalty and responsibility towards his herd), difficulty for leaving a system running into a system that does not benefit from a structured / available advices + system of hate / adoration (see André Pochon)

Learn to (re) know the “system” and its limits. Accept not to produce the same lactation with hay (expensive) and fresh grass (May to September)

Cows must become again animals able to give the best value to the grassland => the hay is their ration

No antibiotics because the health of the herd is generally better (no dewormer and vaccines needed, etc.)

But high workloads and constant preoccupations: choice of plots (need to “lie down in the meadow”) in connection with a suitable weather window => radically different from the classic system (fine tuning management needed)

Farm description

Environment

  • Soil types: Sandy-loam
  • Climate: Temperate oceanic
  • Altitude: 60 m
  • Slope: 0-5%

Grassland management

Permanent grasslands are mostly grazed and temporary grasslands are mostly mowed (4 times a year). The duration of permanent meadows is longer than 10
years. Grazing management is made by fast rotational stocking (24-48 hours) on 30 plots during 9 months per year. Grass is also dried and stored in hay.

Structure

  • Annual Work Unit: 4
  • Farm type: Cattle-dairying
  • Agricultural Area : 65 ha UAA

Pierre and his wife Véronique manage the farm. It has 65 ha of UAA, mainly in permanent (18 ha) and temporary (17 ha) grasslands. Small areas provide various
crops (30 ha).

Animal performance

The dairy cattle (35 lactating cows and 30 young heifers) is:

  1. breed of Holstein X Monbéliarde,
  2. Pure Holstein, and
  3. breed of Rouge de Flandre X Monbéliarde.

The milk production is average: 6,500 kg of milk / cow / year.

Why it is working

Cattle breeding is perceived as a tool, serving the agricultural system in which it is inserted, and not a goal in itself

Because of will and conviction of the farmers of the choices made

Motivation of the farmer and his family

The financial objective is not placed first

Pierre is a passionate farmer, loves things well done

The plots pattern helps (land grouped around the farm, distributed along a concrete paths)

Regular confrontation with colleagues and the experience gained by others (Daniel Rauch, for example) => Filiation of experience and personalities.

Additional information

Farming system

conventional farming

Domains of innovation

farm system, forage conservation technique, forage mixture, grazing management system, landscape, marketing, product processing

Main types of animal

dairy cattle

Country

Belgium

Product type

Farmer portrait

Language

English, French

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