To Milk Once-A-Day Or Twice-A-Day, That Is The Question

To Milk Once-A-Day Or Twice-A-Day, That Is The Question

Professor Warren McNabb from the Riddet Institute compares the traditional dairy farming practice of twice-a-day milking against the emerging trend of once-a-day milking. 

Guided by the research of PhD student Marit van der Zeyden, the discussion delves into the surprising benefits of this less frequent milking schedule. A key highlight of the conversation revolves around the findings that once-a-day milking does not compromise the quality of milk for cheese and yogurt production. 

In fact, it has been observed to enhance the levels of certain milk proteins, such as Kappa casein and alpha S2 casein. 

"So Kappa casein, alpha S2 casein tended to be higher in once-a-day milk compared to twice a day." 

Despite these changes in protein composition, the milk's processability remains unaffected, which McNabb emphasises as significant.

"So I think for us an important takeout is that once-a-day milk is comparable to twice-a-day milk in terms of its processability." 

The conversation also touches on the broader implications of once-a-day milking, hinting at the lifestyle and economic advantages it could offer to farmers. Reduced labour costs and increased flexibility are among the anticipated benefits. 

"Historically, going to once-a-day milking, usually you get a volume reduction... even though you have other advantages like less labour, more freedom from the point of view of the farmer." 

He also suggests that by selectively breeding cows for once-a-day milking, the volume reduction can be minimised, thus offering further incentives for farmers. 

"If we are actively selecting cows who are good at once-a-day milking, we can start to get a handle on this volume difference."

Finally, the conversation teases ongoing research at Massey University, which aims to comprehensively evaluate the economic impact of milking frequency on the entire farm operation. While this work is separate from Marit's PhD project, it promises to yield "interesting results out of those two farms," according to McNabb. 

McNabb expresses his enthusiasm for the potential shifts in dairy farming practices that could arise from these research efforts, as the industry looks toward a future where once-a-day milking may become a more widely accepted and beneficial standard.

Listen to the full chat between Warren McNabb and Dominic George above.

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