Cows on the once-a-day (OAD) milking trial at Teagasc Moorepark produced 3% more milk in 2020 than they did in 2019.

Total production for the OAD cows in 2020 was 409kg MS/cow.

Teagasc researcher Emer Kennedy was speaking at the Teagasc OAD conference on Thursday morning.

She presented results showing that the cows milked twice a day for the full season produced 505kg MS/cow, which was 19% higher than the OAD cows which produced 409kg MS/cow.

In terms of the fertility performance, just 4% of the OAD cows were not in calf at the end of the breeding season, while 9% of the twice a day cows were not in calf.

Good performance

It is fair to say that the fertility performance of the twice a day cows was very good, with 69% going in calf to first service.

Despite this, the fertility performance of the OAD cows was even better, with 88% going in calf to first service.

Emer’s take-home message was that medium production performance can be achieved while milking cows OAD and with low levels of concentrate, but that farmers must be technically efficient and be very good at managing grass and cows.

Laois-based OAD farmer MJ Delaney, who has been OAD milking since 2013, stressed the importance of grassland management.

Dairy farmer MJ Delaney from Cullahill, Co Laois. \ Claire Nash

His cows produced 398kg MS/cow in 2020 from an SCC of 215,000.

MJ stressed the importance of grassland management, as he only has one opportunity a day to give them the right amount of grass, compared with twice-a-day milking.

MJ’s farm is very fragmented, with long walks on the public road. This was the trigger for OAD and it has had massive benefits on his lifestyle.

When asked about the financial implications of OAD, he said: “My first year of OAD was 2013 and everything took a hit that year, but, since then, when production increased and we had a better handle on costs our profits increased, I am now making a very good income from the farm.

"I suppose a lot of the benefits of OAD won’t be seen in the cost control planner.”