Rising number of dairy farmers opting for OAD
Labour shortages and lifestyle issues driving move to once-a-day milking
Labour shortages and the demand for a better quality of life are driving an accelerated switch to once-a-day milking (OAD) of dairy herds.
Waterford-based Teagasc advisor Brian Hilliard said interest in OAD has increased by "nearly 50pc" within the past year.
"We are seeing it now in herds from 50 to 200 cows for a range of reasons, and the general reaction from farmers who have changed over is that they should have done it years ago," he told the Farming Independent.
"Lifestyle has become a much bigger issue for farmers switching to OAD, especially now with the increase in herd size and the shortage of qualified labour available for milking cows.
"The younger farmers want to be able to spend more time with their families.
"There can be a hit in production for the first year which should be planned for, but I'm finding that once the transition to OAD is gotten over, none of them want to go back to twice-a-day milking.
"We are also seeing more interest from the older farmers who want to partly retire and it suits them to reduce milking to once a day.
"It does require well-bred cows under good management, and works well with the black and white and the more mature cows in the herd the less effect of the change on the yield.
"We are finding that cows in third and fourth lactations are the best."
Forty farmers from across the south attended an invitation open day at the farm of Donal O'Loughlin at Ballymacarberry, Co Waterford last week.
Donal was among the first in the country to adopt the new system a decade ago.
His 211-cow herd, which delivered 374kg/cow milk solids to Glanbia in 2018, is one of the top EBI herds in the country.
Donal told the farmers that OAD milking has made a big difference with less pressure on the cows because of the reduced walking on the farm's extremely steep terrain.
To suit the conditions on the farm he has bred a medium size cow and has had strong demand from other farmers in recent years for heifers surplus to herd requirements.
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