Variable milking

Variable milking regimes are gaining popularity throughout the UK as an efficient way of managing seasonal conditions and resources.

Benefits include reduction of farm working expenses and improved animal health. Variable milking regimes cover everything from Once-a-day (OAD) to 16 hours and 10 in 7.

You may use the regimes exclusively as your overall farming system, or strategically for part of the herd or for shorter periods during the season.

The Variable Milking Selection Index (VMSI)

LIC developed the Variable Milking Selection Index (VMSI) to help farmers in the UK and across the world breed dairy cows that are ideally suited to a more flexible milking environment.

Our goal is to support farmers that milk in this way to breed dairy cows that persist throughout the lactation and have longevity in the herd.

To help breed such cows, the index incorporates key traits that farmers have identified as being important for successful variable milking:

  • Udder support
  • Front teat placement
  • Milking speed

The index (VMSI) places less emphasis on the Functional Survival and Fertility Breeding Values because these factors are less of an issue than in twice-a-day (TAD) herds.

Variable Milking Selection Index (VMSI) BV weightings

Benefits of variable milking

Variable milking is becoming more popular with farmers across the UK and around the world.

Some dairy farmers use the milking regimes for the whole season, others do it part-season, during dry periods or to take the pressure off cows during early lactation or before mating.

Benefits of milking your cows less than twice a day can include:

  • save time — you’ll have more time for other jobs on the farm
  • save money on labour and feed costs
  • better herd body condition
  • improved reproduction — easier to get cows in-calf quickly
  • reduced lameness due to less walking each day
  • better suited to farm layout, contour or infrastructure on some farms

Compare bulls based on their suitability for a variable milking system using our bull tool

Choose bulls best suited for variable milking systems

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