Early lactation Once-A-Day milking
As we approach the busiest, most labour intensive, time of year for dairy farmers it's a good idea to consider ways of reducing workload and labour demand. A great way to reduce workload is to implement Once-A-Day (OAD) milking for the first 4 weeks of calving, says Nicholas McKenna Dairy Specialist
Short term OAD milking
Short term OAD milking is an option in early lactation on all farms and it has a significant impact on reducing labour demand which in turn can reduce stress and fatigue during a busy calving season. OAD milking can also have a positive impact on cow health such as increased BCS, which is something that can be an issue at calving. If cows or heifers begin to lose too much condition after calving it can have a major negative impact on milk production and reduce fertility for the upcoming breeding season.
Milking takes up a large proportion of time, OAD milking can help to reduce milking time by upwards of 30%, so if a farmer is spending 2.5 hours a day milking they can save 45 minutes/day by milking OAD. This time could be quite valuable during the spring for carrying out other jobs around the farm or simply taking a break to recharge the internal batteries.
The first question asked when talking about OAD milking is whether milk production is reduced during the cow’s lactation. To put it simply, no, OAD milking in early lactation will have no difference on total lactation milk solids yield.
OAD milking facts
Presenting at the recent Once-A-Day milking conference, Emer Kennedy from Teagasc Moorepark talked about some of the trials currently being carried out and outlined the following in relation to OAD milking in early lactation:
- Initial 22 – 24% reduction in milk yield
- 20 – 23% reduction in milk solids yield (MSY)
- Immediate increase in production when cows return to TAD
- No difference in total lactation MSY
- No difference in SCC
Whilst OAD milking won’t suit every farm, it is something which can be considered on farms that are looking for ways to reduce workload during the spring. It can allow flexibility during the working day whilst also having a positive impact on cow health without an overall reduction in total milk solid production.
For more information on OAD milking check out the 2021 Once-A-Day milking Conference