Once-a-day milking to reduce spring labour

Thursday 25.02.2021 , News

Spring is undoubtedly a busy time of year and following a wet winter, this spring could be particularly challenging. Considering a move to once-a-day milking could be one way to control increasing workloads without compromising on herd productivity.

It is easy to underestimate the impact of a long winter, with the COVID pandemic making this year particularly hard. As we move into spring, workloads are increasing, and having enough labour to do everything can be difficult. As a result, looking after yourself becomes a priority. But doing what you can to manage your workload can help to prevent tiredness and with it the risk of mistakes or accidents happening on the farm, as well as helping to reduce stress levels.

An increasing number of dairy farmers are adopting once-a-day milking in spring as a means to overcome the intense workload that happens at this time of year with spring calving systems. This can be a huge help if you’re short on labour or time without having to impact productivity. According to Teagasc, by following a few simple management techniques, herds moved to once-a-day milking for a month only expect a 6% yield reduction across a whole lactation. They are also likely to see an improvement in milk solids which could result in an improved milk price.

When moving to once-a-day milking, follow these steps to keep production on track:

  1. Milk cows in the morning. If a cow calves later in the day, milk her at calving and then not again until the next morning
  2. Make sure cows are milked out properly
  3. Pay close attention to hygiene, particularly focusing on teat hygiene and health
  4. Keep an eye on cows with high SCC and make treatment a priority

Following a well-managed move to once-a-day milking for a month can reduce stress levels in both cows and farmers. It can improve the BCS of cows at breeding, resulting in a high six-week in-calf rate and a more compact calving pattern the following year. For you, managing your workload during the busiest time of year can help both physically and mentally, and give you more time to focus on other spring jobs around the farm.