One of the most time-consuming jobs on Irish dairy farms is the physical milking of cows and the associated work with it - fetching cows, washing down parlour, etc - taking up to 33% of the working day.

While many farmers start at an early time, there are some who fail to finish the working day at a reasonable hour to give themselves time to spend with family or friends, pursue hobbies or simply rest.

Evening milking is pushed back until later, with good weather and longer days prompting farmers to complete other jobs around the yard such as fencing, power washing or spreading fertiliser.

The difference between these and milking cows is that all the other tasks can be pushed back until tomorrow; the cows will still have to be milked this evening.

16/8 rule

Trials have shown that leaving a 16-hour gap between evening and morning milking and an eight-hour gap between morning and evening milking results in no loss of yield for herds milking 6,000kg or below.

What this effectively means is that if cups are on at 7.30am, cups can go back on at 3.30pm.

This would leave most farmers to start their day at 7.15am and finish by approximately 5pm, just shy of a 10-hour day.

Once cows are milked in the evening early, a farmer has the flexibility to pursue other interests outside the farm gate or carry out smaller tasks around the yard if needs be.

This is obviously not a normal working day for busy times of the year, but as breeding winds down and silage stocks are harvested, farmers should aim to take time away from the farm for their physical and mental health.