Once-a-day (OAD) milking


1 min read

Reasons to consider OAD OAD milking options

Once-a-day (OAD) milking is the practice of milking cows only once during a 24-hour period. This page covers the reasons and options for implementing OAD milking on your farm. The advantages of OAD milking can include reduced time and staff pressure, dealing with feed shortages, improving stock health, and fitting small dairy shed sizes. You can apply OAD milking as a long-term system or as a short-term response to specific conditions, and there are different strategies for implementing it, like full-season OAD, OAD post-Christmas, and early lactation OAD, to suit your farm's needs.

Once-a-day milking can be used long-term as the overall farming system, or tactically as a short-term response to adverse conditions.

Once-a-day (OAD) milking is the practice of milking cows only once during a 24-hour period and is common in many regions. In Northland for example, 31% of farmers milk full-season OAD.

Reasons to consider once-a-day milking

The advantages will depend on your farm system or layout and can include:

  • Less time spent milking cows
  • To reduce staff pressure
  • Feed shortage (plan to milk OAD before feed runs short rather than be forced into it)
  • Stock health (lame cows, light cows, heifers, milk-fever prone cows)
  • Reproduction (non-cyclers, heifers or whole herd in a feed shortage)
  • Small dairy shed for herd size
  • Farm layout (walking distance to shed)

Once-a-day milking options

When milking OAD, you can choose any time of the day to milk, but the timing can have a big impact on cows and people, particularly during the hot summer months.

The key message is that there are a range of options possible, allowing you to choose milking times that best suit your team.

Full season

Full season OAD is an option that requires the most planning, as it involves a change to the overall farm system.

  • For more detailed information visit Full Season OAD Milking.
  • Case studies of successful OAD systems are available in the Proceedings of the OAD Milking Conference, see below Additional resources.

OAD post-Christmas

OAD post-Christmas is a common strategy in a dry summer. When done early enough and with enough feed it can also be used to extend lactation.

  • Takes the pressure off cows by reducing energy expenditure and incidences of heat stress in summer, especially if walking long distances.
  • Reduces stress on staff and gives managers more time to plan and manage.
  • Help cows reach body condition score (BCS) targets during dry summer periods and sets the farm up to maximise days in milk from autumn pasture growth.
  • For more detailed information visit Once a day milking post-Christmas.

Early lactation OAD

Early Lactation OAD is often used to help staff manage multiple mobs, help with spring labour shortages and reduce the pressure on farm during periods of adverse weather.

However, OAD milking in early lactation results in immediate and whole-season milk production losses.

Last updated: Sep 2023
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