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Thread: 3x a day milking

  1. #1
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    Default 3x a day milking

    How much more milk can be made going to 3x? Are we crazy people for even thinking about it? Does cell count always go down with 3x?

  2. #2
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    Ha I would say you are crazy for not at least thinking about it.
    We have 50 holsteins in a ties stall barn and they are currently at about 86 lbs a day.
    When I started my winter break for school I convinced my dad to give 3x a try just for a month until i went back to school. I offered to do the late shift (11 PM) and the deal we made was I would get half of the increase in profit.
    After about 2 or 3 days they had jumped up about 4 lbs and just slowly continued to rise, we are at about 6 lbs a day higher per cow compared to 2x after 3 and a half months.
    When we calculated the profit we did figure that the cows eat a little more and the price of electricity for another milking, as well as wipes and dip. We averaged the extra milk income over a month and compared it to extra expenses and my dad is roughly making an extra $50 a day per cow. So we decided that i would just get $25 per milking, which is pretty good cuz it only takes about an hour and half.
    After a month of 3x things were going pretty good so i decided to take semester off of school and keep milking at least till next fall.
    As far as SCC, theres been a little decrease but some of that can be contributed to scraping down the beds one more time each day.
    Also, Ill mention that my dad loves his new work schedule, he milks at 7 and 3 so he's done with all the chores by 5:30 and he has his nights to do whatever. If you can find good help for a good price i say go for it.

  3. #3
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    btw, all the research i read about switching to 3x said that it wouldn't really pay off for 6 months. so i maybe we are rare to see results so quickly but apparently it will only get better.

  4. #4
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    We got a 15% to 17% increase way back in the late 70's when we started it. Another 7% when we went to 4x (4x for the cows over 70 lbs and 2x for those under).

    You should see a big increase from first calf heifers as their udder is not large enough for high milk production the first lactation. We never had a heifer go over 100 lbs a day until 3x. First one went 101 lbs, second went 143 lbs. On the age cows, never had one go over 150 lbs on 2x, but had a high of 198 lbs on 3x. This was all back in the late 70's and early eighties. I haven't run my own place since then.

    IMPO you will see healthier udders as the pressure is being relived more often, thus more content cows.

    I just loved the milking schedule as long as you have some help to do it.

    On the 6 months. The just fresh cows or those freshening will really respond. Those that are early mid and later will not hardly respond, thus the improvement over time.

  5. #5
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    Ours goes great. We milk at 5am, 1pm, and 9pm. Our parlor is a swing 8 and we have about 180 cows but we milk them all with clean up in around 3 hours depending on whos milking. It's great for the cows they like it and I've noticed the don't seem as agitated and don't seem to kick much or make to much of a fuss when milked. Were averaging around 90 lbs a cow or so. If you can have reliable people work the schedule it's not bad.

  6. #6
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    Michaelo, one of the strugges we will have is it takes us 4.5 hours to milk. We have a double 4 flat barn for 160 cows. I realize if we go to 3x, milking time will be reduced. Do you see our milking times to be a problem?

  7. #7
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    Depends on whos milking and if they actually want to work I would talk to whoever works for you and see what works but I would try a schedule like 4am, 12pm, and 8pm or something along those lines. Like akern47 said maybe try it for a month and see how it goes. It's one of things that isn't for everyone but if you have good employees and people that are will to work late I would go for it.

  8. #8
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    Yeah, the key is to have someone who is reliable that you can trust doing at least on of the milkings.... it is a killer if one guy does it all as it doesn't leave enough time for sleeping let alone other important tasks. We did 5, 1, and 9pm and it took our crew about 5 hours each shift. Reliability is the key as there is nothing worse than getting that phone call right before the shift (if they bother to call) saying they won't be there, especially if you are milking other shifts.

  9. #9
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    Have one reliable guy, been with us 5 years and he does a great job. Other guy is good too but pretty new. I will have to think about this some more......

  10. #10
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    Ours in kinda different cause it's a family farm and I work there. The old man and my boss milk the 5am shift I come at 8 my boss goes and feeds cows and I finish milking then usually me and one of the boss's sister milk at 1 then then the other boss's sister milks at 9 usually with the new hired girl. It helps having reliability and people willing to work.

  11. #11
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    Say if it takes you 2 hours per milking when you are 2X if you switch to 3X would it still take as long? or would your time be a little less because of less pounds per cow?

  12. #12
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    Would probably be a little less not to much. Also if you do make sure you have your cows sorted well otherwise you'll be waiting on cows that milk 45 pounds a milking with the ones that milk 25 pounds.

  13. #13
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    for 50 cows took us about hour and 45 2x compared to hour 20 for 3x

  14. #14
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    When we went from 3x back to 2x we found little change in milking time. 90 cows took around 5-10 minutes extra in our swing 8 parlor with 1 person milking. The fresh cows dropped more than the later lactation cows dropped, if they dropped at all. Cows didn't leak like they did on 2x milking.

    With only 2 hours of milking and cleanup for one person, we were easily able to milk with only 2 milkers. One of my parents milked at 6AM while I milked at 2PM and 10PM. I got into the house at 12 and went to bed at 1AM, getting up around 8AM. While we spent more of our day milking cows than 2x, I really miss the evening life I was able to have. Getting done at 4PM left me coach baseball and go hunting in the evening. Getting done now after 6PM makes for a rush if I have somewhere to go and baseball and hunting don't happen. What I don't miss about 3x milking is that feeling in the early evening, knowing that I have to go back out to milk. It was worse in the cold weather. My greatest claim to fame is that when my parents went on vacation for 9 days, I milked 27 milkings in a row every 8 hours. All I did was feed cows, milk and sleep.

    Our cell count went from 170,000 to below 100,000. Oddly, we've held it below 100,000 for the 13 months that we've been back on 2x. Milked jumped at first to 8lbs extra per cow, after 2 years I realized that RHA's showed only 2lbs increase and we decided to stop 3x within 2 days after realizing that. The cows didn't drop drastically after stopping 3x but then we ran out of corn silage 2 months later and production dropped like a rock.

    We are low input and graze. For those two reasons I don't believe it worked. If you have a good producing herd and have good facilities and milking parlor that get's cows through, I think 3x milking is a must.

  15. #15
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    Also if you go to three times a day I would use your most reliable person for the morning milking. It never seems to fail the people who just want a job are the ones who don't show up for the early milkings but the mid day or evening ones are also easier to find people to milk for. Also I recommend someone with experience we hired a new girl with no experience and yesterday was probably her 5th milking or so they were 45 minutes late and when finishing up she forgot to close the bulk tank when she was letting the milk drain out of the pipeline luckily I was walking through the milk house. At least someone who knows what to look for milking and how to tell if I cow is milked out and so on.

  16. #16
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    I milked that "late shift" (9:00 pm-2 am) for a two years while attending a local college. It was by far my favorite shift with no one to bother me and the cows stayed nice and calm. In a typical 2 week cycle I normally would do 13 nights and 8 afternoon milkings.

    On the cow side it can't be comfortable carrying around 70-90 pounds for those high producing girls. Going 4X make sense to me if a cow was making over 120 pounds a day.

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by akern47 View Post
    for 50 cows took us about hour and 45 2x compared to hour 20 for 3x
    Wow that is incredible, 210 minutes for 2x and 240 minutes for 3x. I calculated 14% more time milking per day on 3x.
    What sort of shed were you milking in?

    Can anyone else share their daily milking time differences between 2x and 3x a day milking?

    Also for the pasture feeders on 3x.. How do you manage your pasture? 3 fresh blocks a day? Or I have heard of people that send their cows back in to an already grazed block from the day?

    I hope its okay asking these questions in this thread cousinit.
    Last edited by freddobonanza; 09-04-2012 at 03:45 PM.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by freddobonanza View Post
    Also for the pasture feeders on 3x.. How do you manage your pasture? 3 fresh blocks a day? Or I have heard of people that send their cows back in to an already grazed block from the day?
    When on 3x after the night milking, I put them back into the same paddock as they had been before. They don't eat much from midnight to 6AM anyway and I didn't feel like changing paddocks or moving temp fences 3 times a day.

  19. #19
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    On all three farms I've worked that switched from 2x to 3x, there's been about a 10% increase in production, a moderate decrease in SCC (Low 200s to mid 100s, roughly, on all three) and a month of pure chaos as everyone gets acclimated to the new schedule. Then, once everyone's used to it, and you move past the recriminations of "night shift is lazy and doesn't show up in the morning until 8AM!" and "Morning shift gets to leave early!" and "Noon shift stops working on projects to go milk all day!" and starts heaving in the same direction, it's pretty great.

    The one thing to caution is you need help. Unless you've got a huge family, tiny dairy, or a super-efficient system, you MUST have extra, reliable help. It generally adds one half person to the workforce, but has always been well worth it.

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