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Labour saving: 13 times per week milking


Fancy taking some time off on your dairy farm? Reducing the number of milkings per week is a practice used to allow farmers to take time off from the farm, from July onwards. Martina Gormley, Teagasc Dairy Specialist examines this approach and emhasises that consistency is important to make it work

On average milking takes 1.5 hrs, dropping one milking per week will reduce workload by 1.5 cows but more importantly it allows the farmer to milk in the morning and take the rest of the day off.

Teagasc research shows that there is no difference in milk yield, solids or body condition score for cows milked 13 times a week from mid-July (Table 1).

In the trial, one evening milking per week was omitted. Somatic cell count (SCC) was measured and there was only a slight increase on the day after switching to 13 times milking per week. All cows on the trial had ≤200,000 cells/ml SCC in the previous lactation and prior to the trial period.

Table 1: Effect of 13 times a week milking (13TWM) commencing at 180 days in milk compared to normal twice a day (TAD) milking.

As SCC slightly increases on the day after switching this does indicate that SCC needs to be ≤200,000 cells/ml SCC prior to going 13 TWM. 

Along with this if, you decide to take off for example every Sunday evening, consistency is also important - you need to stick to this.

The Teagasc Dairy Specialists issue an article on a topic of interest to dairy farmers every Monday here on Teagasc Daily. Find more on Teagasc Dairy here