Once a Day Milking

Discussion in 'Cattle' started by Ken Scharabok, Aug 2, 2004.

  1. Ken Scharabok

    Ken Scharabok In Remembrance

    Messages:
    6,844
    Joined:
    May 11, 2002
    There are two articles in the August 2004 issue of Stockman Grass Farmer I wanted to pass on.

    One concerned dairy farmers in NZ who had switched to once a day milking. They found a decrease in their gross, but increase in their net. While the production dropped per cow, they were able to run more cows on the same grazing area. They also found a far richer lifestyle due to the decreased milking demands. Results may be totally different with fed cattle.

    Article noted it was a way for one person to milk a herd since twice-a-day is very hard on one person and good help is scarce.

    Here I am reminded about the adage 80% of the results come with the first 20% of effort.

    Second concerned a test in NZ where a dairy herd was managed using automatic milking machines. No idea how they work, but they automatically hook up and drop off each quarter as it goes dry. Cows are allowed to come into the milking parlor one at a time when they feel like it. They were given 4.4 pounds of crushed barley and then allowed on fresh pasture. Two interesting aspects. The cows averaged 1.1 self-milkings a day. They basically did not use the parlor from 3AM to 6AM, but heavily used it from 7AM to 8AM. Thinking is 3AM to 6AM is a 'quiet' time for them when they don't want to be disturbed. Yet, that is when much of the morning milking, at least in the U.S., takes place. They also found the herd to be calmer and incidences of mastitis and lameness were far lower.

    How does this pertain to the one-cow homesteader? Perhaps schedule at least the morning milking between 7AM and 8AM.

    Ken Scharabok
     
  2. uncle Will in In.

    uncle Will in In. Well-Known Member Supporter

    Messages:
    7,154
    Joined:
    May 11, 2002
    Once a day milking was the method we used to get cows to go dry before freshening if they wouldn't go dry on their own. The udder of a good milk cow won't hold a 24 hour supply of her milk. If she is not milked at least twice daily her bag will be stretched very badly, and cause problems. If she is only milked once a day from the very start of her first lactation period she will be OK but you will be maintaining the same number of cows for less than half the amount of milk. Granted they wouldn't require any grain which would be a huge savings.
    Milking once a day reminded me of a story about a frugal farmer who tried reducing his cows feed every day to cut expenses. When he told his neighbor about how he got her down to one straw per day, the neighbor asked what happened then? He says,"She died!"
    If you don't have time to milk, you have no business with a milk cow unless you enlist the aid of a calf.
     

  3. Haggis

    Haggis MacCurmudgeon

    Messages:
    2,246
    Joined:
    Mar 11, 2004
    Location:
    Northeastern Minnesota
    Gentlemen, these are two very interesting perspectives on what can be a very fullfilling, but confining farming lifestyle.

    From one view, the farmer can keep addition milk producers on the same acreage but giving less milk, at a less expensive price per pound, producing more saleable calves per year, requiring less hands on time, and freeing the farmer for other activities.

    From the opposite view, the traditional time tested and proven approach.

    Definitely both are food for thought.
     
  4. Ken Scharabok

    Ken Scharabok In Remembrance

    Messages:
    6,844
    Joined:
    May 11, 2002
    "If she is only milked once a day from the very start of her first lactation period she will be OK but you will be maintaining the same number of cows for less than half the amount of milk."

    This implies a cow milked once a day will only provide half (or less) of the milk of a cow milked twice a day. Is that really correct. Heck, then go to three times a day milking. Seriously, say the drop is 25% of total but your expenses go down by 50%. That may make it worth while - particularly when it cuts your milking time down my half.

    Note the second article which said when given the choice, cattle only wanted to be milked 1.1 times a day. Goes against your over-full reference.

    For a while I was running from 50-100 brood cows. I sat down with pen and paper and figured out I could cut the herd down to about 10-14 cows and decrease my expenses on the herd by about 90%. Why? I rented out their former pasture and large hay field to a row cropper. I only need to bushhoe the edges of those fields. I don't fertilize, spray or lime. I don't need to pay someone to put up a large amount of hay to run through the cows for basically no return on investment. Plus I have the crop rental income. I still have about 20 acres of odds and ends to get hay from and around 15 acres around the house to keep what cattle I have now on. After the crops are harvested the cattle are turned out on the stubble for the winter, with only hay as supplement. Calves do have access to a creep feeder though.

    Ken Scharabok
     
  5. Haggis

    Haggis MacCurmudgeon

    Messages:
    2,246
    Joined:
    Mar 11, 2004
    Location:
    Northeastern Minnesota
    Please pardon my humble interjections and obviously meager experience, but as I understand milk production a cow has two main influences on the amount of milk she will produce: clean stripping at each milking, and more frequent milkings.

    This being said and hopefully accepted, what percentage of increase does one find from the more frequent milkings? What percentage of loss does one suffer with once a day milkings, with the stripping being a given in either case?
     
  6. uncle Will in In.

    uncle Will in In. Well-Known Member Supporter

    Messages:
    7,154
    Joined:
    May 11, 2002
    I'm with you on the beef cattle Ken. Good row crop land is more profitable cash rented than used to grow forage for beef cattle. Marginal farm land and crop residue in the winter makes beef cow feeding more profitable. I must admit that having a large group of calves right off the cow to sell about now would be nice.
     
  7. Paula

    Paula Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    1,104
    Joined:
    Jun 3, 2002
    Location:
    TN
    For several years once a day milking has worked just fine for us. We gradually slow a fresh cow down to a manageable amount of milk, then milk her completely out once a day. The cow will sustain that amount of production for almost the whole lactation, with the normal slowing down near the end.
     
  8. willow_girl

    willow_girl Very Dairy

    Messages:
    14,609
    Joined:
    Dec 7, 2002
    Location:
    Dysfunction Junction
    This is a very interesting discussion!

    For awhile, we were milking the newly freshened cows 4x a day. We'd milk them at the beginning and the end of each milking. The farmer discontinued it after determining it wasn't profitable. I liked it, though, because the girls that had just calved didn't have to be on their feet for 1-2 hours in the larger groups. We'd run a dozen cows through, they'd be done and back to their stalls in a half hour.

    This morning I was giving some thought to having my own dairy. I'd want about a dozen cows, 20 max. That way, I'd have time to give each excellent care, monitoring for health problems and nipping them in the bud. I wouldn't need a bunch of expensive equipment to handle feed and manure either. There is actually a farm up the road for us that has been doing this for more than 25 years, I'm trying to work up the courage to go down and talk to them.

    There has to be a better way!
     
  9. Ken Scharabok

    Ken Scharabok In Remembrance

    Messages:
    6,844
    Joined:
    May 11, 2002
    Also check into ways for you to sell the dairy products retail in the local area.

    Ken Scharabok
     
  10. Suzanne

    Suzanne Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    56
    Joined:
    May 10, 2002
    Location:
    Michigan
    When our cows get into later lactation we go to once aday. We are not a for profit dairy, and don't push feed at our cows either. Sometimes milk for several months and we then dry them up, because we have 2 that overlap their production so we are never without milk. {Unless we want to take alittle vacation together...of course what is that?? :D } I have heard that it does not work for all cows. We have one due around the 10th, and the other we are milking twice aday. But she is still giving around 40 pounds aday at 7 months milking, so we will wait til some more dip in her production before we go to once aday. But may just give her a long dry period til March due date, still have pigs so extra milk is not a problem. And can make cheese to my hearts content... :)
     
  11. AR Transplant

    AR Transplant Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    1,056
    Joined:
    Mar 20, 2004
    This is interesting, thought I'd tell you what is going on with my cow. She had her first calf May 24. and we milked once a day and got about one and a half gallons of milk.

    Then, believe it or not, we went with the church youth group to Colorado for 7 days. I had a lady lined up to milk her, but in the end she couldn't do it. So, I gradually stopped Isabella's grains, and let her and her calf out with all the beef cows and stopped miking her all together.

    I came back, gradually fed her the grain again, and after ten days she is giving just shy of a gallon of milk a day. I would like a little more, but I am happy that it worked out for us to be gone for so long.

    I keep the calf off her during the day and milk at night. I am considering milking her in the morning before I let her out to see if I can raise production.