Milk production is the primary source of income for organic farmers in Germany. In 2020, they produced almost 1.2 million tonnes of organic milk. However, its impact reaches far wider than this.
By sending their livestock out to graze, organic dairy farmers add character to rural areas, maintain valuable cultivated landscapes and create relaxing environments for humans. Consuming just one litre of organic milk enables 2.5 square metres of organic meadowland to be farmed.
Breeding dairy cows for high performance (up to 12,000 litres of milk per year) leads to health problems in many animals and can only be achieved by feeding large amounts of feed concentrate. As such, compared to organic cattle, animals that are attuned to high quantities of feed concentrate are often unable to cope with or are less compatible with grazing nowadays.
In organic farming, the target milk performance is between 5000 and 8000 kilograms and organic animals are only intended to reach peak performance once fully grown. The basic ration fed to organic cattle consists of grass and clover supplemented with maize and whole crop silage.