Thursday, 08 August 2019 14:55

OAD milking offers labour solution

Written by  Peter Burke
About 9% of dairy herds nationwide are on full season once-a-day milking. About 9% of dairy herds nationwide are on full season once-a-day milking.

Once-a-day (OAD) milking could open a whole new labour market for dairy farmers, says a DairyNZ Wairarapa Tararua consulting officer Gray Beagley.

He says OAD farmers can choose what time they milk, so a later milking time may attract workers who find early mornings hard, and people getting young children off to school.

About 9% of dairy herds nationwide are on full season OAD, but Beagley says this is just an average. In Northland about 25% of all herds are OAD. This variation is partly, but not exclusively, due to the weather. 

“In many cases it’s about the lower milk yield per cow in the region,” he says. 

“We know that switching to OAD will result in 2% to 16% lower production. If a farmer was doing 300kgMS, already the potential loss would be a lot less than if he was doing 400kgMS/cow. 

“So the people who are on twice a day (TAD) are probably only going to see a 2% drop in production.”

Beagley says farmers are turning to OAD for various reasons, but he notices that with new regulations and changes in the pipeline for dairy farmers, milking OAD has attractions. 

The lower OAD milking workload allows more time for animal and people welfare and there is less stress overall.

Beagley says there won’t be a OAD conference this year for various reasons but there will be one next year. The organisers want to allow more time for new science about OAD to come through. With an annual conference the risk is that old science simply gets regurgitated. 

Beagley says he’s now putting the onus on OAD farmers to tell him what information they need and he’s working on a 12 month plan to get information to them. His role is to facilitate getting them the information they need. 

Key messages are on pasture quality, and farmers having the grass they need at the peak of the season -- ‘peak high, fly long,’ they say. This is because OAD farmers can have potentially more days in milk and generally have a very compact calving because of improved reproductive performance. They need to take advantage of that by getting the cows to peak high and many people struggle with that.

Beagley says some of this relates to cow quality which they can’t change overnight. But farmers can ensure they have sufficient high quality pasture going into the second round.

On OAD profitability, Beagley says the focus should be on reducing costs -- especially for labour -- to counter the drop in production.

More like this

Milking cows behind the barbed wire

A recent field day at the Waikeria Prison Farm near Te Awamutu offered farmers the chance to see what goes on “behind the wire”, alongside introducing the idea of farmers employing offenders near the end or after the term of their sentences.

Nonsense rule irks West Coasters

The government's new freshwater regulations are creating a few headaches for West Coast dairy farmers, according to DairyNZ South Island head Tony Finch.

Not the time for militancy

DairyNZ chairman Jim van der Poel says some farmers would prefer a more militant approach in tackling contentious issues affecting the sector.

Featured

 

John Deere names new Aust/NZ head

John Deere Australia/New Zealand’s new managing director Luke Chandler says he will prioritise leading the way in technology and investing in strong relationships.

Trade deal delivers new 'rulebook'

A new trade agreement, the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), has been described as a new rule book for trade in the Asian region.

National

Miraka picks up awards

Taupo-based Maori dairy company Miraka took the top honours at this year’s Biosecurity Awards.

Wyeth ready for new challenge

The chief executive-elect of Yili-owned Westland Milk Products Richard Wyeth says he’s looking forward to the challenge of running the…

Machinery & Products

Mixer makes feeding easy

Coolbreene Trust near Taupo is a large-scale dairy operation farming 1150ha, including run-off blocks, within a 10km radius of its…

More colour to light range

Originally available with amber lenses only, Narva’s ‘Geomax’ Heavy Duty LED Strobe Beacon light range has been upgraded with the…

State funding for recycling

Having declared in July that all farm plastics sold in New Zealand will have to be recycled or reused, the…

» The RNG Weather Report

» Latest Print Issues Online

Milking It

Avoiding listeria

OPINION: The company that makes dairy products under “The Collective” brand, and which copped a nearly $500,000 fine for failing…

Greenpeace seeing red

OPINION: Still with Greenpeace, the organisation’s push for a price on agricultural greenhouse gas emissions is gaining momentum since the…

» Connect with Dairy News

» eNewsletter

Subscribe to our weekly newsletter