Just once-a-day works well for the Mitchells
After 30 years of twice-a-day milking former Okoroire farmers Heather and Ian Mitchell happily welcomed the concept of once-a-day farming. The Mitchell’s were rather relaxed about the whole transition from twice-a-day to once-a-day milking.
‘‘We found comfort in knowing that the option to reverse the decision was always there if it didn’t suit us,’’ Mrs Mitchell said.
‘‘We decided that we didn’t have a lot to lose really.
‘‘If it hadn’t of worked out it would have been easy to go back to twice-a-day milking. This thought made us quite relaxed about the whole situation.’’
Originally the Mitchell’s became interested in once-a-day milking because of the lifestyle benefits that came hand in hand with it.
‘‘We were attracted to the lifestyle, we wanted a change. We also wanted to cut back our workload without leaving the farm. Once-a-day was the best option for our farm’’ Mrs Mitchell said.
Once-a-day milking means that farmers only have to see the inside of their cowshed once a day. Less time is spent dealing with stock and stock spends more time relaxing in paddocks instead of standing in yards and tracks.
Some onlookers struggle to understand the theory and logic behind once-a-day milking. Production initially will fall but it is just a minor speed bump that is easily overcome Mrs Mitchell said.
‘‘We had no idea how much you can save when milking on once-a-day. The biggest barrier to overcome is production loss. Of course there is going to be a loss to start with but you overcome this when you realise how much you are saving and cutting down on expenses such as power and other costs. We also learnt that we could add 15 per cent more stock to our heard because of stress off the cows resulting in more feed.’’
Along with the lifestyle benefits, there are many other aspects that the Mitchells address. Better herd condition, decreased bills and costs, slower stock rotation and better fertility in cows are other perks that once-a-day farming offered.
‘‘You are busy up until around lunch time then you have the afternoon to do as you please. If you want to make a getaway it is easy to find a relief milker because the once-a-day milking is so appealing. Better stock condition was a huge benefit as well as lower bills and costs. We also had a slower stock rotation resulting in more pasture and our cows were getting in calf a lot easier.’’
The Mitchells now enjoy their second season of retirement after their son took over the responsibility of the farm.