If you’re thinking about milking cows just once per day during early lactation, you may want to reconsider.

Research from Ireland and the United Kingdom shows that spring-calving Holstein-Friesian cows that were milked just once a day for the first four weeks of lactation gave nearly 20 percent less milk than cows milked 3X. This negative effect persisted through the first half of lactation.

However, energy balance tended to be less negative for the 1X cows than the 3X cows. Less-frequent milking also had reproductive benefits. First ovulation occurred about 10 days earlier in the 1X cows than the 3X cows (18.3 days versus 28.6 days, respectively).

The research appeared in the May Journal of Dairy Science.

May 2006 Journal of Dairy Science