Farm Ireland

Monday 10 December 2018

7 things the most efficient dairy farmers do on a daily basis

Claire Fox

Claire Fox

Since the abolition of the EU milk quota in 2015, the increased demand for labour has become a major challenge for Irish dairy farmers. However, a recent Teagasc study shows that there are eight things that the most efficient dairy farmers are doing on a daily basis to cut time off their working day.

Number of cows to milk

The study showed that the most efficient dairy farmers had on average nine rows of cows to milk as opposed to 11 rows of cows on less efficient farms. Since milking is one of the most time-consuming tasks for farmers, it shows how small changes can make a big difference when it comes to labour saving.

Automatic Backing Gate

On the most efficient dairy farms, farmers have an automatic backing gate installed in their milking parlour. Scraping gates, up and over backing gates and circular backing gates can lead to labour savings as they are customised to fit your farm and lead to better cow flow overall.

Once-a-day milking

While some farmers are yet to get on board with once-a-day milking in the spring, the study highlights that the most labour effective dairy farmers perform once-a-day milking for at least four weeks in the year during spring time. This means the farmer can milk cows in the morning and then spend the rest of the day calving cows and feeding.

Delivering feed

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On the best managed farms fresh feed is delivered every second day as opposed to every day, also saving the farmer time to concentrate on other farm tasks.

Using machinery to deliver feed

The most efficient dairy farmers used technology and machinery to their advantage when delivering feed to their animals. Using a tractor and shear grab instead of feeding with a tractor/finger grab and feeder wagon is a more effective way of managing feed.

Contract rearing

While calf rearing is only a seasonal task, it is a time consuming one. The most efficient dairy farms are getting calves contract rearers. This involves the movement of replacement heifers from the owner’s farm for rearing on contract by another farmer. It saves  farmers time so that they can focus on dairy and also free up limited shed space.

Calf care

The most efficient dairy farms feed colostrum via a stomach tube, do not house calves in individual pens and get calves out to grass at six weeks old.

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