Once-a-day milk­ing prov­ing pop­u­lar

Wairarapa News - - FARMING - JILL GAL­LOWAY

Milk­ing only once each day is grow­ing as more farm­ers think about their per­sonal goals and staff.

Farm­ers are mov­ing away from the more de­mand­ing milk­ing twice each day.

About 30 farm­ers from the lower North Is­land went to a oncea-day (OAD) dis­cus­sion group at Horowhenua farmer’s Kerry Walker’s Te Horo farm and most of them knew each other.

Kerry Walker’s son, Ryan, said milk­ing was done early in the morn­ing, and that left the rest of the day to do main­te­nance. He is study­ing at univer­sity, but came to the farm dur­ing hol­i­days to help.

‘‘Since we have been on OAD the farm is look­ing ten­fold bet­ter. We have had two sea­sons on OAD and we would not go back to milk­ing twice each day.’’

The Walk­ers run mostly friesian cows.

DairyNZ’s con­sult­ing of­fi­cer in Hawke’s Bay, Gray Bea­gley said there had been an in­crease in OAD dis­cus­sion groups.

They had gone from three to seven groups through­out the coun­try, dur­ing the past sea­son

‘‘And I have had lots of phone calls about OAD. Peo­ple of­ten get stuck on the tread­mill [of twice a day milk­ing]. They have a cou­ple of years of bad re­turns, and build up dur­ing the next few years. Just step back and think and look at peo­ple and an­i­mal health and what works for you,’’ he said.

‘‘Peo­ple say cows need to be [Toy­ota] Corol­las not Fer­raris, they need to milk steadily and put milk in the vat for most of the year not peak and then drop off their milk flow.’’

Dairy cow mat­ing had started on most farms and OAD milk­ers had found that cows were cy­cling well and had not lost as much con­di­tion as twice-a-day milk­ers, af­ter calv­ing.

Gen­er­ally, it was the cow, not the breed which made an an­i­mal suit­able for OAD, said farm­ers. But jer­seys or kiwi-cross cows were more likely to cope than friesians farm­ers said.

‘‘In two weeks there has been a big change in the weather We have had sun­shine, and had a shower the other night which I was pleased about. If it stays fine, we’ll be ir­ri­gat­ing soon,’’ said Dale Pratt who farmed OAD near Feather­ston in Wairarapa.

Manawatu¯ farmer Chris­tine Fin­ni­gan, who has milked OAD for the past nine years, said the wa­ter ta­ble had been high.

‘‘It is start­ing to dry out a bit now, but it has been re­ally wet.’’

While most cows pro­duced less on OAD pro­duc­tion wasn’t ev­ery­thing, she said.

‘‘On the whole, we don’t get as many prob­lems as TAD [twicea-day], lame­ness for ex­am­ple.’’

At­tend­ing the dis­cus­sion group were vis­it­ing Gore farm­ers Shane and Eileen Walker. They said some South­land farm­ers with big herds had staff who were start­ing milk­ing at 3am and who were suf­fer­ing from burnout.

They were in the ini­tial stages of a great sea­son and were top­ping pas­tures.

Af­ter cop­ing with a wet win­ter, and wet spring some Manawatu¯ and Ran­gitı¯kei farm­ers de­spaired of a pro­duc­tive sea­son.

‘‘De­scribe what pas­ture looks like for us - we haven’t seen it for a while,’’ a Manawatu¯ farmer said.

Kerry Walker said he was get­ting older, and OAD milk­ing had sparked an in­ter­est in the farm again.

‘‘It is eas­ier, but dif­fer­ent too. If you don’t put the ef­fort in you won’t get the re­sults in OAD’’

Bea­gley said the retention of staff was of­ten not recog­nised as the bonus of OAD milk­ing.

‘‘It is eas­ier, but dif­fer­ent too.’’

‘‘I think it is un­der-rated on OAD. Keep­ing staff means less train­ing and get­ting new staff used to the job and peo­ple.’’

Ashurst farmer Ed Jack­son said he talked to Massey Univer­sity once-a-day guru Colin Holmes be­fore mov­ing to OAD milk­ing.

He said he took sev­eral years to change from TAD to OAD milk­ing, and as a re­sult he did not lose any pro­duc­tion.

‘‘I had 20 per cent re­place­ments. I took sev­eral years to tran­si­tion. And I get con­cerned when peo­ple talk about how much pro­duc­tion they have lost by go­ing to OAD.’’

PHOTO: WAR­WICK SMITH/STUFF

Kerry Walker hosted the once-a-day milk­ing dis­cus­sion group at his Te Horo farm.

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