Reasons for operating a OAD milking system

Once-a-day (OAD) milking continues to grow in popularity on Irish dairy farmers. Brian Hilliard, a OAD dairy advisor with Teagasc highlighted some of the reasons behind the increased popularity.

Brian outlined that there are approximately 200 dairy farms operating full time OAD milking, throughout the country.

Reasons for choosing OAD

Some of the main reasons for choosing to operate OAD milking include: farm layout; long walks; steep climbs; and farm fragmentation.

Brian cited the walking distance from the parlour as a reason why farmers are making the switch, stating “it’s a lot easier moving cows long or hilly distances when milking OAD and there [are] less lameness issues”.

“Some people have switched so they can make better use of an out-farm, while some farmers are establishing a second unit and milking OAD on this block,” he explained.

Other reasons that Brian highlighted include: an off-farm job; a drystock or beef farmer converting to dairy farming; and as a way of retiring and reducing the workload.

“Lifestyle is another huge factor when it comes to OAD milking. Some people are tired of being tied down milking cows twice-a-day (TAD), seven days a week, but OAD really changes that. It also might make farming more attractive to their sons or daughters.”

milk price

Points to consider

Brian outlined that the process of converting to OAD milking as a long-term project and that preparations should begin at least two years in advance.

”Cell count can be an issue with OAD milking, so milk recording is essential for identifying cows that are suitable, with high cell count cows being removed from the herd.

OAD milking places more pressure on the cows udder so teat placement and udder ligaments are important in cows.

”Farmers operating OAD milking on average get 5c/L more for their milk, which offsets the loss in volume.

”Selecting the right bulls is also very important, giving you production through high fat and protein rather than volume.”

Most importantly Brian said to speak to farmers who have been doing OAD milking for a number of years and attend events that are being held to obtain knowledge before converting.