Use of once-a-day milking to reduce labour demand

Jun 05, 2018, 03:40 AM

On this week’s episode of The Dairy Edge podcast we speak to Waterford based dairy advisor Brian Hilliard about the use of once-a-day milking across the entire lactation.

Brian explains that there are 40-50 dairy herds across Ireland milking their herd once a day as a means of reducing overall workload and improving lifestyle. Brian weighs up the pros (reduced labour, improved animal health and fertility) and cons (reduced milk and milk solids yield, increasing SCC, reduced profitability in first 2 years) of once-a-day milking systems.

Production on established once-a-day farms can be quite high at 400 kg milk solids, which is comparable with the national average dairy cow that is milking twice-a-day. Brian points out that while dairy farmers are running successful once-a-day herds, the first few years can be quite challenging due to a reduction in milk revenue and increased culling levels as unsuitable cows exit the herd.

He urges anyone who is interested in once-a-day milking to talk to their Teagasc dairy advisors and get out to see existing once-a-day farmers to learn more about the system.

For more information:

Selection of dairy cows for once-a-day milking https://www.teagasc.ie/media/website/publications/2018/Breeding-for-Once-a-Day-Milking---Donagh-Berry.pdf

Economic implications of transitioning from twice-a-day to once-a-day:

https://www.teagasc.ie/media/website/publications/2018/Economics-of-transitioning-to-Once-A-Day-Milking---George-Ramsbottom.pdf