The following article is published in Lakeland Dairies / Teagasc Joint Development Programme's innovative and informative 28-page booklet.
The booklet contains recommendations, tips and case studies, aimed at making farm life easier for Lakeland Dairies' milk suppliers.
With more cows calving in February each year, some farmers have decided to milk once-a-day for the first month of calving. This is a temporary measure to help reduce workload at a stressful and busy time of year.
Thomas Loughrey from Co. Westmeath has made the change to milk once-a-day in February and it has had positive effects on his workday in the calving season.
I started milking once-a-day in February after the topic being mentioned at my discussion group. I had a fear about my SCC or incidences of mastitis. There has been no effect on milk quality or annual milk yield since I went once-a-day milking in February.
It had a hugely positive effect on the structure of the working day. Saving two hours a day for 28 days is significant. It’s a full week’s work saved with just one practice.
Positives of once-a-day milking in February
- Reduce the dependence on family help on the farm.
- Often times, family help is overlooked or undervalued.
- Temporary once-a-day milking at the start of lactation reduces 1.5-3hrs work per day. These hours are of particular importance in the springtime.
- More time is available to spend with calves, ensuring a more successful calf rearing.
- Cows do not exhibit as long or as deep a negative energy balance, helping them cycle and get back in calf. This practice has encouraged many farmers to tackle an underlying SCC problem.
Thomas' working day in February
- 6.30am - Check calving shed, feed new-born calves with stored colostrum.
- 7.30am - Start milking. Thomas milks all his colostrum and antibiotic cows last.
- 9am - Cows are let out to grass for 3-5 hours.
- 9.30am - Feed calves.
- 11am-3pm - Feeding silage, servicing the calf shed (bedding concentrate etc.) cleaning cubicles, general farm jobs.
- 3.30pm - Cows back in from grass.
- 4.00pm - Feed calves with the milk from morning heated up.
- 5-11pm - Checking calving sheds and feeding new-born calves.