Do you want to do 140 milkings less per year?

Sick of milking twice a day? The cows are sick of it. Autumn and winter are coming up fast.

Why not reduce the number of milkings over the latter part of the season?

By milking three times in two days; i.e. twice on one day and once the following day, you are saving about four milkings per week.

It is important to realise that you need to take a relatively relaxed approach to this. Some farmers have attempted to milk at exactly 18 hour intervals resulting in milking in the middle of the night. This is unnecessary and actually quite ridiculous.

So how does it all work?

Tomorrow, milk at the normal time of the morning e.g. 5am and then do normal daily work, then after the evening meal, at around 8pm, milk again. It was important that everything is set up; have all the cowshed, gates etc. ready so the cows will automatically go into the paddock after the later milking.

The following day get up at a more leisurely time and milk the cows at about lunchtime.

In the South Island, they are moving to 13 milkings per week, dropping out Saturday night and why?, so all the staff can go off to rugby, and it does not seem to affect anything.

What are the benefits?

The condition of the cows seems to improve. Continual walking to the cow shed and standing around on concrete appears to take condition off. Milking 3 times in 2 days the cows are in better order, put on weight, winter better and go into calving in an improved condition.

It's an opportunity to lengthen your paddock rotation. If you start milking 3 times in 2 days in January or February you actually extend your rotation by 25% which is always a good thing after the summer season, going into the autumn.

You lessen footwear and foot problems by reducing the amount of time the cows spend walking the races and standing on concrete. One farmer calculated his cow, with a life of nine years, walked 12,000 kilometres! This certainly helps you understand why cows suffer from feet problems.

The huge saving of not less than 25% can be expected from power, detergent, dogs, motorbikes, farm plant and races.

Staff are not tied to a rigid twice a day milking and it gives them a much more flexible approach and enables them to have afternoon and evenings off. Imagine being able to milk at lunchtime on a Saturday, take your family out water skiing on the lake, have a picnic tea and wander home when it suited rather than rushing home to milk at 3pm.

From my own experience, I employed a contract milker for 10 years on my own farm and used this system. He subsequently went to Tasmania and had a large number of Tasmanian farmers successfully change to milking three times in two days.

And what did he think? I t was great because every second day he didn't have to do the night milking. It allowed him quality time with his family, particularly after lunchtime milkings and in the weekends. Also, the cows seemed happier, and more peaceful.

He was able to shift his milkings around, milking twice daily on two consecutive days so that on a Saturday he milked at 11am then had the afternoon for rugby and the rest of the day off.

He really loved the system and it improved the working relationship between him and I as he had a more relaxed lifestyle. From my point of view I was happy to introduce it; as it avoided having to do the weekend milkings myself and gave him more time off as he was doing a lot less milkings himself.

What's the downside?

There have been some queries as to somatic cell counts, we found that these counts didn't increase that much so that did not appear to be an issue.

Clearly high producing cows in the 330+ kg/ms range may show a drop in production if this system was adopted for the whole season. But certainly if it was done over the autumn I would consider it to be a minimal loss. There are a large number of farmers milking and producing well less than 300 kg/ms and they show minimal loss under this system.

I have recently received calls from two different Northland farmers who have gone onto milking 3 times in two days, they have lengthened out their rotation and their production has actually increased so they are more than happy with this system.

The neighbours may think you are going nuts because you are suddenly milking your cows after tea and in the middle of the day. Regardless of what the neighbours think, you will find it is an excellent system.

In summary, milking three times in two days does offer some substantial benefits, not only to you, your team and your family, but also to the cows and your back pocket.


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