Since their costs are so low, the Straubs make between 800 and 1,000 dollars profit on each of their 84 cows. Before, they made around 150 dollars profit per cow.
Howard Straub says grazing has made cattle the chief asset on his farm, instead of a bunch of machines. His cows are healthier because they're eating grass, like they were meant to do. And because they get lots of exercise, the cattle live longer, produce more milk, and have more calves.
Even though the idea with grazing is that there are sprawling pastures for the cows, it doesn't require any more land than confined feeding farms. That's because you have to consider all the land that supports a herd of cattle, says Tom Kriegl, who studies dairy farming at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
"You can have a diary operation where the only land that you own is the land that the building sits on that you house cows in, and you might buy all of your feed for those cows and you would not own the land that the feed is grown on. But you actually need that additional land that the feed is grown on even if you don't own it."