Views on milking strategies, frequency varied

Dairy farmers have plenty of options for milking strategies. Shawn McAvinue asks southern dairy farmers when was the last time they changed their milking frequency, what was the change and why did they switch?

Blake Korteweg

Of Hedgehope

"We changed on December 15 last year. We changed from milking twice a day to milking three times in two days to look after cow condition, lameness and maintain production."

Robert Bruin

Of Otautau.

"I’ve never changed — I’m always twice a day. The cows are producing heaps of milk, so I don’t want to go to once a day. During droughts we always keep going and if I’m short of feed, I buy in."

Geoff Colson

Of Papakaio.

"The last time I changed was on May 5 last season, from twice a day to once a day to help put on a bit of weight leading towards the end of the season to aid the dry off."

Justin Koenig

Of Kaupuka.

"We are twice-a-day farmers all the time. I only go to once a day in April or so. We have a good team of staff, we are most probably overstaffed, so trying to reduce milking frequencies would mean too many people just hanging around. We have a wintering shed and I use it as a tool to put on condition. When other farmers are starting to get worried about condition, I know I have a winter shed to put on weight very quickly compared to a conventional wintering system."

Scott Bixley

Of Tussock Creek.

"When we were sharemilking in Clydevale was the last time we did anything different. Where we are now, we are trying to do high production, so we are twice a day, every day. In Clydevale, it was a hell of a long farm, rolling land, hard on the cows and a bit of a drier area, so near Christmas time we cut our losses and went once a day."

Gonzalo Bascur

Of Mokotua.

"We normally change in autumn, depending on the weather. It could be the last week of March or the middle of April and we switch from milking twice a day to milking three times in two days, until the middle of May and then we switch to once a day until the end of the season." 

Adrian Frei

Of Riversdale.

"I’m a twice-a-day milking system and always have been. It is only in extreme years where we go once a day, when it is really dry and I’d be very short of feed. I do switch to once-a-day milking for a week to 10 days before I dry the cows off."

Ryan Sutherland 

Of Henley.

"We’ve never changed from milking twice a day. We’ve got quite milky cows, which produce a lot of milk, so you need to accommodate them and going to once a day, or every 16 hours, might put too much pressure on their udders. Although we do go once a day closer to dry off in June but other than that, we milk twice a day."