Improved cow flow can cut working hours

21 July 2000

Improved cow flow can cut working hours

IRISH milk producers spend 13 hours a day working their farms, according to new research.

Teagasc researcher Kevin ODonovan explained that 9.5 hours was accounted for in daily tasks (see table), six days a week, for family farms in the study. Add breaks and lunchtime to that 9.5 hours and its equivalent to a 13-hour day, he added.

Of the time spent working each day, the average producer, with an average of 72 cows, spent three hours 50 minutes milking. But help at milking from other members of the family meant labour required for milking was four hours 30 minutes, including herding in cows and moving fences. Mr ODonovan believes there is scope to reduce time spent milking.

"We observed a high level of mechanisation. The milking units are there, but its ruined by poor cow flow."

Good collecting yards, backing gates and a simple routine are needed. The aim is to eliminate the need for a second person in the parlour, he said.

Maintenance was another area where there may be scope for time saving, added Mr ODonovan. "At 50 minutes a day, its a high figure for a low return."

But fixing machinery may be taking a long time because of lack of interest and ability. "It may be better to sub-contract this work out."

Look at the whole system, practices and returns in respect of labour costs, he advised.

Time spent on daily

tasks: May 2000

Milking 3 hrs 50 mins

Silage pit 40 minsmanagement (some seasonal)

Maintenance 50 mins

Office 55 mins

Stock checking, AI etc 80 mins

Grassland managementfences 65 mins

Other enterprises 40 mins

Misc 10 mins

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