• Evaluation of on-farm labour saving strategies for optimisation of herd size that could be managed by one operator

      O'Brien, Bernadette; Gleeson, David E; Shalloo, Laurence (Teagasc, 2009-06-01)
      Alternative milking frequencies Once a day (OAD) milking throughout lactation of a herd (over 2 years, incorporating 24% heifers) resulted in loss in milk solids (MS) production of 17% per cow.  Milking cows OAD in their 1st lactation does not adversely impact on milk production in the second lactation, when changed to twice a day (TAD) milking but may lead to a higher mastitis incidence.  Changeover in milking frequency in mid lactation resulted in a similar yield of MS per cow for TAD milking for the full lactation (474 kg) and the TAD OAD group (TAD for the first 110 days and OAD for the remainder of the lactation) (469 kg).  Thirteen times weekly milking in late lactation (omitting the Sunday evening milking) compared to twice daily milking every day had no effect on milk yield or composition and maximum SCC observed during the trial was 270x103 cells/ml.  Once daily milking did not adversely affect the processability of milk.  Once daily milking did not significantly increase milk SCC levels. Alternative calf rearing systems  The improved efficiency increased herd size may be due to less use of buckets for calf feeding together with more frequent use of teat feeding from a container, automatic feeders and ad libitum feeding  A study on OAD calf feeding (whole milk) demonstrated that calves can be reared with a OAD milk feeding system and weaned early (42 days) without adversely affecting performance  There was no difference in the live-weight gain of calves on once daily feeding, twice daily feeding or once daily feeding going outdoors after 28 days  Calf liveweight gain was greater with once daily feeding with milk replacer compared to once daily feeding with whole milk or once daily feeding with milk replacer going outdoors after 28 days Economic analysis of alternative milking systems  When deciding on the type, size and level of technology in the milking parlour, the trade-off between labour requirement and cost and the initial capital investment requirement should be key in making the decision.
    • Labour efficiency on-farm

      O'Brien, Bernadette; Gleeson, David E; O'Donovan, K.; Ruane, D.; Kinsella, J.; Mee, John F; Boyle, Laura; McNamara, John G. (Teagasc, 2007-01-01)
      Improvements in milking efficiency have a greater influence than any other aspect of the dairy farmers work on overall farm labour inputs (Whipp, 1992). In order to facilitate the examination of milking process labour inputs, the milking process may be divided into the following three components: herding pre and post milking (transfer of cows to and from the milking parlour); milking (milking tasks / work routines within the parlour); and washing (washing of milking machine and yard). Meanwhile, within milking specifically, the number of cows milked per operator per hour is the best measure of both the performance of the operator and the milking installation (Clough, 1978). This is affected by the following three factors: the milking times of the cows, the number and arrangement of the milking units, and the operator’s work routine (Whipp, 1992). The addition of extra milking units will only increase milking performance if the operator has idle time during milking (Hansen, 1999).