The use of once-a-day (OAD) milking in early lactation has become more common on Irish dairy farms, with the labour saving benefits seen in the busy spring period.

During the Teagasc Once a Day Milking Conference, the use of OAD milking in early lactation was discussed, along with its use in late lactation.

Many dairy farms operate OAD milking in early lactation as a way of reducing the workload while calving is still taking place on the farm.

OAD in early lactation

Speaking at the conference, Dr. Emer Kennedy, a researcher with Teagasc stated that: “Short-term OAD milking is an option on every dairy farm.

“There is a 30% reduction in workload, when it is operated. This reduction is attributed to cups on time only and does not include herding.”

OAD milking does cause a reduction in milk yields and solids, with between a 22-24% reduction in yield and 20-23% in solids.

This is only for the period where OAD milking takes place, with a return to normal levels once cows have been switched back to twice-a-day (TAD) milking.

It was also noted that there was no notable difference in cell counts in cows compared to cows on TAD throughout their lactation.

Late lactation

OAD milking in late lactation was also discussed at the conference. Steward Childs, the conference host noted that he knew of several farmers that had tried this.

Again, in late lactation it was noted for its labour saving and providing a work-life balance. There was also a reduction in milk yields and solids, compared to a cow kept on TAD milking.

But, the main concern is cell counts, with Emer noting that you need a low somatic cell count (SCC) and good management practices for it to work.

It has an average increase in cell counts of 12% compared to cows kept on TAD milking.