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Farm advice: Benefits of flexible milking

Angela Reid’s on-farm team is enjoying better balance at work, especially since the Southlander introduced 3-in-2 milking

Angela manages North South Farms, a property under FarmRight management in Northern Southland. Switching to milking three times in two days (3-in-2) in 2020/21 saw some great gains for her team and herd, while also maintaining the operating profit margin relative to the regional average.  

“Staff are happier at work and well-rested. They only have four early starts a fortnight instead of seven when they milked TAD. Animal health has benefited, too,” says Angela.

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Angela Reid (right) and the team are enjoying great gains thanks to flexible milkingAngela Reid

Roster changes and adjustments to drafting springers, mating, and grazing routines were all part of the fine-tuning involved in moving to 3-in-2, and further improvements were made in the 2021/22 season.  

Over calving on the single milking days, work starts at 7am, drafting springers through the cowshed yards before the 9am milking. On the double milking days, the springers come to the shed after the morning milking. 

Angela says, instead of 24-hour grazing, they altered the feed allocation to match milking intervals, breaking it down into hourly requirements. The dairy near the farm’s centre has three lanes running into it. It can cater for up to three herds, with cows flowing in and out at the same time. 

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Angela Reid

One of the biggest successes of flexible milking has been reproduction, says Angela. Submission rates were up on previous years – the three-week submission rate was 87.7% vs 72% for the previous year. Cows calving in the first three weeks of the 2021/2022 season was 60% vs 52% in 2020/21, and the six-week calving rate was 87% versus 81%. 

Initially, production didn’t peak as it normally would have, but as the season progressed, the cows held for longer. 

Now in her third full season running 3-in-2, Angela says TAD milking is a thing of the past on the farm.  

“I don’t see us changing back to it anytime soon. Our next step would be to try 10-in-7 for a full season.” 

As for the current season’s 3-in-2 schedule, Angela is sold.  

“If you have good staff, the right systems in place, and can look at the bigger picture, then you and your staff will love it.” 

Check out our pilot farms at dairynz.co.nz/flexible-farms to: 

  • read the full Five Rivers/North South Farms case study and view Angela’s rosters 
  • find out about other farmers who’ve trialled or adopted flexible milking

Article supplied by DairyNZ, previously published in Inside Dairy

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