Dr C.P. McMeekan’s book, "Grass to milk", has been used as the basis of this paper. It is an historical account of a dairying system based on cows harvesting improved pastures in situ following a seasonally concentrated calving in the late winter. It was published in 1960, not as a text book, but as McMeekan’s "complete philosophy of New Zealand dairy farming". The book’s contents present an opportunity to compare "performance" statistics for the described dairying system with those recently published in the peer reviewed literature and elsewhere. Commendable advances have been made in cow yield per lactation and feed conversion efficiency as well as in dry matter harvested per hectare. However, these advances have been partly offset by an increase in cow wastage, largely due to lower reproductive performance, even in research herds, in spite of interventions such as induced calving and treating anoestrous cows. What should be obvious from reviewing the seminal publication of McMeekan is that most of the management concepts described by McMeekan have stood the test of time and are as relevant today as they were 50 years ago.
Proceedings of the New Zealand Society of Animal Production, Volume 72, Christchurch, 81-87, 2012
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