A dairy business in northern NSW is reaping the benefits of milking three times a day.
Ruthven farmers Robyn and Steve Mathers added the lunchtime milk for their 350 jerseys in August.
For the couple, it was a financial decision. They needed to pay back a disaster relief loan.
“That was the best way we could do it at the time, to milk three times a day to get the extra money,” said Robyn.
She says it does surprise other farmers that their milk production has increased by a third.
“I think if they actually worked out the economics, that more would actually do it,” she said.
“A lot of people just think it’s so tiring having to do it three times a day, but they don’t actually calculate whether they would make more out of it or not,” said Steve.
Robyn agrees that it is tiring milking the cattle more than twice a day.
“But now that we have our son back on the farm the last month, that makes it a little bit easier because he does the morning one,” she said.
The cows have access to one more hectare of pasture a day, but the supplementary feeding in the dairy hasn’t changed.
“We were feeding three kilos a day, so we’ve just divided that one kilo each milking,” she said.
“And it’s a lot better in utilising the pasture, especially when we started on that spring flush.
“Our farm’s ideally suited for three times a day. The paddocks are all divided into one hectare paddocks and it just made it heaps better in the utilisation of it, the pasture wasn’t getting too old.”
It’s also reduced the stress on the cows.
“The somatic cells went down on average about 50,000,” she said.
“It’s probably better for them, they’re not holding all that milk in the udder for a longer period of time,” said Steve.
“Before, while they were waiting to get milked, they would be standing there spraying milk out in the yard, whereas now you don’t have that problem,” said Robyn.
Their milk price has also lifted slightly.
“We pick up the bonus on the somatic cells,” said Robyn.
“If we could make 50 cents a litre, it was well and truly worth it, and we’ve done well above 50 cents, so we’re happy.”
If the benefits are so great, why aren’t other farmers milking three times a day?
“I think it’s the thought of it,” said Robyn.
“The paradigm, this is what we’ve always done, twice a day, this is what’s expected, but really the benefits are there for three times if they want to do it.”
Source: ABC Rural