Approximately 90 percent of farmers utilise twice-a-day (TAD) milking strategies at some point during the season.
In New Zealand, the traditional TAD milking interval has been 10-14 hours, milking at 5am and 3pm. However, this leads to long days, particularly if your herd and dairy size result in milkings of longer than two hours.
Research has demonstrated that milk accumulation in the udder is almost linear for up to 16 hours post-milking, so there is no significant difference in milksolids production between the different intervals.
Implementing shorter intervals
Work with your team on a plan that works for everyone, whether that be a sleep-in, earlier finishes, or a bit of both.
It’s important to make sure other non-milking jobs important for the farm are not affected.
Reducing the length of the day will likely result in improved rest time and fewer mistakes.
Managing a long morning milking
With an 8-16 hour milking interval, about two-thirds of the milk will be harvested in the morning, which can result in a long milking.
If you have ACRs (automatic cluster removers), increasing the pulsation ratio may be a simple solution to increase the rate of milk harvest without impacting udder health. Check with your local plant service provider if this may be suitable for your farm.
Applying MaxT at the morning milking gives the greatest efficiency gain due to the greater volume of milk to harvest. The overall aim is to shorten the slowest 20% of the herd at the morning milking.
- McMeekan, C. P. and P. J. Brumby. 1956. Milk production and interval between milking. Nature 178:799. https://doi.org/10.1038/178799a0
- Schmidt, G. H. and G. W. Trimberger. 1963. Effect of Unequal Milking Intervals on Lactation Milk, Milk Fat, and Total Solids Production of Cows. J. Dairy Sci. 46:19-21. https://doi.org/10.3168/jds.S0022-0302(63)88956-0
- Turner, H. G. 1955. The effect of unequal intervals between milkings upon milk production and diurnal variation in milk secretion. 6:530-538. https://doi.org/10.1071/AR9550530
- O'Brien, B., J. O'Connell and W. J. Meaney. 1998. Short-term effect of milking interval on milk production, composition and quality. Milchwissenschaft 53:123-126.
- Edwards, J. P., B. Kuhn-Sherlock, B. T. Dela Rue and C. R. Eastwood. 2020. Short communication: Technologies and milking practices that reduce hours of work and increase flexibility through milking efficiency in pasture-based dairy farm systems. J. Dairy Sci. https://doi.org/10.3168/jds.2019-17941