Profitability of grazing versus mechanical forage harvesting on New York dairy farms

J Dairy Sci. 2002 Sep;85(9):2215-22. doi: 10.3168/jds.S0022-0302(02)74301-4.


The profitability of rotational grazing versus mechanical harvesting of forages was estimated using data from 237 nongrazing and 57 grazing farms participating in the New York farm business summary program in the year 2000. The objective was to perform an empirical comparison of the profitability of grazing versus mechanical forage harvesting systems. A regression analysis technique that controls for treatment selection bias is used to determine the impact of grazing on the rate of return on assets. This is accomplished by joint maximum likelihood estimation of a probit adoption function and a profit function. The results indicate that treatment selection does not have an important impact on the estimate of the profitability of grazing. There were wide ranges and overlap of profitability among herds using the two systems. However, other things equal, farmers utilizing grazing systems were at least if not more profitable than farmers not using grazing systems. After controlling for the factors influencing the decision to graze, we found that herd size, rate of milk production per cow, and prices received for milk have a strong positive impact on profitability. Farmers who perceive potential lifestyle benefits that might be obtained by implementing a grazing system likely do not have to pay an income penalty for adopting a grazing system.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Animal Feed / economics*
  • Animals
  • Cattle
  • Climate
  • Costs and Cost Analysis
  • Dairying / economics*
  • Dairying / methods*
  • Educational Status
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Income
  • Lactation
  • Middle Aged
  • Milk / economics
  • New York
  • Regression Analysis