Milking your herd 13 times in a week may seem confusing for some, but it is common practice on many dairy farms from about mid-July onwards.

Milking 13 times per week involves cutting a milking out from your weekly milking routine; such as the Sunday evening milking for example.

The act of cutting a milking out of the week is commonly completed on farms in New Zealand – to reduce the requirement for labour on weekends.

From April to June, cows are at their peak of production, but after that yields begin to drop off; because of this removing a milking will have minimum effect on the milk production of your herd. This will be different for winter-milking systems.

In New Zealand, they have found that moving to 13 milkings per week has actually improved the condition of their cows and they have also saved on electricity costs.

Will it affect my herd?

However, studies conducted by Teagasc showed that skipping a Sunday evening milking resulted in no difference in milk yield, milk solids or body condition score.

In the trial completed by Teagasc, one evening milking was omitted. The somatic cell count (SCC) of the herd was measured and only a slight increase was noted on the day after switching to 13 milkings per week.

Although, according to Teagasc, all cows on the trial had a SCC of less than or equal to 200,000cells/ml in the previous lactation and prior to the trial period.

Milking 13 times per week has been tried and tested on many farms with minimum effect on the cows.

Usually, the Sunday evening is omitted. In this case, the milking commonly takes place later on Saturday evening, midday on the Sunday and earlier on the Monday.