DairyNZ senior farm systems scientist Dr Paul Edwards is leading the flexible milking project. He says there was considerable interest from farmers in switching to ‘three in two’ milking at the recent Canterbury Farmers’ Forum where the research was presented.
The webinar on March 30 (from 7-8pm) will share early research results from the project.
“The initial data shows that it’s possible to shift to ‘three in two’ milking with only a small reduction in milk production,” says Dr Edwards.
The project trial involves 116 cows and tests different applications of the ‘three in two’ (three milkings over two days) system at the Lincoln University Research Dairy Farm. It compares twice-a-day milking; full season ‘three in two’ milking; and two different part-season ‘three in two’ milking options.
Across both spring and summer, cows milked using ‘three in two’ produced four percent less milk solids than the herd milked twice-a-day. This includes herds milked both full-season and part-season. Autumn trial results are still being collected.
‘Three in two’ milking is becoming increasingly popular in New Zealand. DairyNZ’s animal care consults of 500 dairy farmers nationwide identified that the number of farmers using ‘three in two’ milking has grown from 7 percent to 12 percent (between 2017/18-2018/19).
“Reducing the number of milkings and changing their timing can help better manage farm workload and allow milking to be planned around farm needs and staff availability,” says Dr Edwards.
He says that while ‘three in two’ milking may not suit all farms, reducing the number of milkings by 25 percent does create more options on farms where staffing is a challenge.
“More flexible shifts and the option to start later some days can also open up dairy roles to a wider workforce and help make work on-farm more attractive. There are lots of variations on flexible milking that are being used on New Zealand farms.”
The trial is part a wider three-year research project on flexible milking options. DairyNZ is also interviewing farmers using ‘three in two’ milking in a range of situations to help identify the barriers and lessons associated with switching to this system. Next year ‘three in two’ milking will be piloted on commercial farms, and an experiment testing different ‘three in two’ milking intervals will be carried out.
The research programme is being jointly funded by the Ministry of Primary Industry’s Sustainable Farming Fund and DairyNZ levy investment, with in-kind support from Lincoln University, farmers and rural professionals.
To register for the flexible milking project webinar, or sign up for email updates on the flexible milking project visit dairynz.co.nz/3in2.
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