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A 42-cent improvement per cow

Maggie Gilles, Kansas Dairy Farmer


November 18, 2021



Imagine if I told you that you could return 42 cents per cow per day with an investment of only a little time and effort. That’s the “back-of-the-envelope” math Cornell’s Chris Wolf did to illustrate the benefit of utilizing a well-structured milking procedure during the November 17, 2021, Hoard’s Dairyman DairyLivestream.

“There’s evidence here that poor routines can have consequences not just for the next milking but longer term,” Wolf said during the webcast sponsored by Diamond V. “I find it useful to view the lactation of each cow as an investment in the sense that time, effort, and energy devoted to the lactation today generates a future stream of returns.”

Utilizing numbers collected by dairyman Scott Ferry of Ferry Farms in Michigan, Wolf spelled out the savings realized by the farm due to a change in milking routine. Ferry Farms made a simple adjustment to their milking routine to increase stimulation time from 10 seconds to 15 seconds.

While this added five seconds of time, the farm actually found more milk and a quicker total milking time. Production climbed 2.5 pounds per cow per day on average.

“Scott said he was spending five seconds more per cow,” Wolf explained. “Maybe there was less on the back end, but even if we just assume that it was five seconds more per cow, at $20 per hour labor costs, that’s less than 3 cents per cow that you are spending that generates 2.5 pounds more milk. If milk is $18 per hundredweight (cwt.), that’s 45 cents per cow.”

Obviously, there will be variability depending on the farm and even the individual cow, but capturing more milk from each cow more quickly poses a positive economic opportunity. The research done by Cornell, Michigan State, and others have outlined the importance of stimulation of 10 to 20 seconds followed by a lag time of 90 seconds prior to attaching the milking unit and for complete milkout and optimization of milk production. With this economic analysis, it’s clear to see that the milking routine is worth review by every dairy manager.

To watch the recording of the November 17 DairyLivestream, go to the link above. The program recording is now also available as an audio-only podcast on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, and downloadable from the Hoard’s Dairyman website.



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