An on-going experiment a Moorepark is finding a significant disparity in the performance of once-a-day (OAD) versus twice-a-day (TAD) milking.
Teagasc researcher Emer Kennedy reports that milking the cows once a day has reduced their milk production by 22pc and their milk solids by 15pc.
To date this year, the once-a-day cows have produced 2,754kg milk and 249kg MS. The twice-a-day cows have produced 3,525kg milk and 294kg MS.
This year, the TAD herd peaked at 2.52kg MS, compared to last year where they peaked at 2.3kg/day. In total, they have produced 511kg MS.
The OAD herd produced 396kg across their lactation last year and peaked at 2kg MS/ day. This year that has increased to 2.1kg MS/ day.
According to Kennedy, the figures are lining up with what has been reported internationally.
Meanwhile, in terms of Somatic cell count (SCC) - often an issue with OAD milking - the once-a-day herd has a slightly higher SCC than the twice-a-day herd.
In relation to Body Condition Score (BCS) - normally one of the positives of OAD milking - at the moment, the once-a day cows, at 3.4 BCS, are almost half a BCS higher than the twice-a-day herd (3 BCS).
Teagasc has reported that interest in OAD milking continues to grow.
The practice is sometimes considered as an option in situations where labour is in short supply, the farm layout means that cows have long walks to and from the parlour, or for lifestyle reasons.
A recent Teagasc comparison of TAD, robotics and OAD milking found that the milking process is less time-consuming when robots are used (40 minutes versus two hours for OAD), but it requires significant investment.
It found OAD is a lower-risk option, provided the drop in output is not too excessive, as it requires lower investment levels than a robotic system.
A key message coming out of the trial is that farmers considering OAD need to have good grassland and herd management skills to minimise any reductions in cow production performance.