Study highlights importance of roughage

Ahead of the publication of the EU Protein Strategy, the EDA and IFCN have conducted a study to complete the EU Protein Balance Sheet (PBS).

The official EU Protein Balance Sheet published by the European Commission services does not include any data on the importance of roughage for the dairy sector due to the lack of reliable quantitative information on this type of fodder. The EDA – IFCN study has filled this gap with high quality data for all 28 EU Member States.

In its explanatory note of the EU Protein Balance Sheet, the European Commission underlines that “roughage (like pasture, green forage, silage) is an important source of protein, in particular for ruminants.”

The EDA – IFCN study shows that, at EU level, almost 70% of the total protein intake of dairy cows stems from roughage, with Ireland (84%) and Austria (80%) having the highest ratio. The study also found that 95% of the roughage used in dairy farms in the Union is grown ‘on farm’.

Dairy cows are able to consume stock that is inedible for humans and turn it into high value protein for human consumption. Other benefits include that roughage is grown on land that cannot be used for other cultures and it therefore maintains a landscape and enhances the biodiversity.

EDA secretary general Alexander Anton said: “We support the overall idea of establishing an EU Protein Strategy. Roughage like pasture, green forage or silage is non-edible for humans and grown on ecologically valuable pastureland. In volume, roughage represents at least 70-85% of a dairy cows’ daily diet. Our joint EDA – IFCN study now shows that on-farm-grown roughage is also the protein basis for the EU dairy sector, accounting for more than 80% of the total protein intake of cows in Ireland or in Austria”.

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