Interest in once-a-day (OAD) milking is rising, says DairyNZ senior scientist Dr Paul Edwards.
Reporter Peter Burke discovered this at a recent DairyNZ discussion group near Otaki.
One such farmer is Christine Finnigan, for eight years an OAD farmer in Manawatu. Her son also runs an OAD farm in the region.
She says in a year of wet weather OAD has made it easier to get through a difficult time.
“I have never struck wet like this before and we have been on the farm since 1995; it’s definitely been the worst. We’ve had a build-up of sand in tile drains and the water table has been really high.
Production has been down due to pasture damage caused by the constant wet,” she says.
But while this has been stressful, Finnigan says OAD is an advantage, lowering stress on the cows and on her. OAD milking has given her breathing space and time to think.
“Also with less walking we haven’t had any more lameness than normal despite the wet weather being hard on the cows: their teat condition with the mud and the races tend to pack up and they attract a lot of dirt. The difference this year is that you can’t see very far ahead. You have a general plan but you have to reassess the situation each day.”
Finnigan says she has had to adopt a very flexible farming system in the wet, even going as far as deciding day-to-day where to move the cows next, given the weather. The flexibility of OAD makes this possible.