Once-A-Day Milking Profitable Option

NEW ZEALAND - Once-A-Day (OAD) milking can be more profitable than Twice-A-Day (TAD) milking. That’s the result of a study and comparison of the finances of farms which have operated under both regimes.
calendar icon 24 April 2007
clock icon 2 minute read

The report was released at last week’s inaugural OAD Milking Conference, organised by LIC in conjunction with Dexcel, in Hamilton.

LIC’s General Manager Genetics, Peter Gatley, said the popularity of OAD milking has been growing over the last few years after interest was spurred by the findings of a Dexcel trial in Taranaki.

"It’s estimated that 350 farmers have switched to whole-lactation OAD with measurable benefits in cow fertility and general health, and lifestyle for farmers and their families.

"A lot has been learned over several years about the impact on gross production and the benefits of better cow health and condition, but what’s been lacking has been analysis of the bottom-line impacts".

That was one of the draw-cards on the agenda at the conference.

A joint LIC/Dexcel study of the financial accounts of 22 OAD farmers across New Zealand confirms that, in many situations, milking OAD can be more profitable than TAD.

"Farmers move to OAD for a variety of reasons. There are clear benefits for both cows and people, but any system has to be profitable and sustainable," Peter Gatley said.

"As one farmer presenter said ‘ I’m out to make money, not necessarily milk. I want profit and a lifestyle’ ".

The analysis carried out by FarmWise Consultant Ryan Anderle and Dexcel scientist Dr Dawn Dalley found that the lowered per-cow production was partially offset by a higher stocking rate, and favourable variances were found in both cattle sales and Farm Working Expenses (FWE).

  • On average milksolids yield decreased by 5.6%.
  • On average FWE decreased by 25.5%. Expenditure on wages, supplements and animal health decreased.
  • Additional income from cattle sales increased by an average of 33.5%.

The net impact of a move to OAD was demonstrated with a case study involving a Canterbury farm milking 700 cows.

Under TAD the farm delivered an EFS of $1,307 compared to $2,049 under OAD.

"Farmers at the conference, with several year’s experience milking OAD, said the decision to challenge the status quo is a difficult one, but they have found increasingly good results as the benefits of cow health and reproduction flow through, and the cows lift their performance partly as a result of selection pressure, and partly due to the ability of some to adapt to the new system.

"There is no suggestion that OAD is for everyone, but farmers should ask themselves whether the afternoon milking is worth the incremental volume, particularly when they factor in the impact on farm costs and cow condition," Peter Gatley said.

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