Once a Day Milking – a Viable Option for Quality of Life

Think about it, 75-80% of the milk for about half the labor, half the chemicals, half the grain, AND evenings (or mornings) with a few extra hours of “free” time. Once a day milking (OAD), as opposed to the more conventional twice a day (TAD), is a popular option in several other countries as a way to improve working conditions for farmers. When milk stays in

Milking can be an enjoyable time, especially for observers

Milking can be an enjoyable time, especially for observers

the udder for 24 hours, though, there are some management concerns that must be addressed. Let’s take a look at why OAD might be a good choice, some of the drawbacks, and some of the surprising benefits. First, let me tell you what drove us (or led us) to give it a try.

I had written about the option of milking OAD in my first book, The Farmstead Creamery Advisor. I knew of two commercial dairy farmers, one with cows and one with goats, that only milked one time a day. The former as a way to make up for the lack of extra labor to do these tasks while the farmer was at market during evening milking hours, and the latter as a way to ensure time spent with young children and family. I read about this option in a French dairying document and while in Argentina, learned that many farmers there were intentionally selecting for and breeding cows that did well being milked OAD. I was tempted to give it a try, but as our herd of Nigerian Dwarf goats has been on official milk testing, through Dairy Herd Improvement, for the last 10 or more years, I was very nervous about potentially ruining their records. It also felt very “naughty”.

Then our youngest daughter Amelia, my cohort in goats and barn slave, moved out. Reality check! I was trying to finish writing a third book (about small dairying) and found myself doing far more chores than ever before. Since I am always preaching to cheesemakers and dairy folks about making choices that sustain your both your livelihood and lifestyle (translated not wanting to run away from the farm or divorce your spouse), I realized we needed to give it a try.

What do the Experts Say?

SCC and Mastitis: The first question that people usually ask, is doesn’t once a day milking lead to mastitis? The data says that most animals experience an initial increase in somatic cell count (SCC) but it does not correlate with an increase in mastitis causing organisms within the udder. The initial increase is followed by a decrease in SCC, but usually it stays more elevated than on twice a day milking. (Our experience has had different results). For cows that might already have a low grade udder infection (subclinical mastitis) there is an increased likelihood that once a day milking will lead to acute mastitis. This makes sense, since milking more frequently is one of the best treatments for an udder infection – an empty udder helps “starve out” the invading microbes. Increased SCC alone, does not indicate mastitis. So if you are planning on trying this technique, you should closely monitor SCC’s before switching and after.

Udder with large storage capacity - at start of milking

Udder with large storage capacity – at start of milking

Volume and Components: The research (you can read two articles whose links I have provided below) indicates that production dropped by an average of 15-20% depending upon the animal breed, age, and stage of lactation. In most of the studies, cows held their production levels best, when milked TAD until the peak of their lactation was reached. (For most goats this is at 100 or so days, but for Nigerian Dwarf goats, more like 60 days into the lactation) Interestingly, udder anatomy also played a role. Cows (and in our herd so far goats too) with a larger cistern, that’s the animals own milk bulk tank, were able to maintain good production levels – especially when compared to those with udders made up of more productive tissue and a smaller cistern. In the data, Holsteins typically had more productive tissue and smaller cisterns than cows such as Jerseys. But no matter what the breed, selective breeding for this characteristic can accomplish the desired udder type.  See the photos for an example of one of our two LaMancha does with large cistern capacity. (Indeed, her milk production has increased on 1x a day milking).

In the studies, milk components – butterfat and protein – increased, potentially meaning an increase in cheese yield for cheesemakers. But enzymes also increase, which could lead to shorter shelf life for fluid milk and coagulation or aging

At the end of milking the entire udder is empty and the cistern area is quite visible

At the end of milking the entire udder is empty and the cistern area is quite visible

changes for cheese. I could not find information that delved into this aspect. The cheesemakers I know that milk OAD do not seem to have any issues.

Feed Usage and Body Condition: Grain consumption, if fed at milking time only, can decrease by half and dry matter intake (hay and forage) decreases as well. In general, cows body condition scores improved and a side effect of lower rates of hoof and leg problems resulted.

Our Experience

The first night, boy did I feel like I was slacking off. I also expected the goats to be a little peeved, but no one seemed to have any issues. For the next two – three mornings, the two higher producers had tight udders and one dripped a little milk. After a few days, their production adjusted itself to simply just a full udder. Total milk production for a 24 hour period fell from 12 gallons to 7.5 and then after 6 weeks, came back up to 8.  As of this writing, we are about 10 weeks into the experiment, and production varies between 7.25 – 8 gallons a day. This is amazing to me, as by now many of the does should be dropping a bit and we had four does that had been in milk for about 18 months, and I expected these to start drying off, but they are holding pretty well. Nigerian Dwarfs tend to peak much earlier than standard breed does, so this factors into our lower numbers as well. I am paying close attention to the does that are holding their volume the best.

After four weeks we had our first DHI milk test. The results reflected what the research shows, components go up as do somatic cell counts (SCC). Aha! you say, mastitis will be a problem.   Our increase – to a herd average of 282,000 for the Nigerians and 500,000 for the LaMancha and Lagerians (our Lamancha Nigerian crosses) was still well within our year round normal. Components went way up as well, almost a full 2% for fat and 1% for protein. During this time our cheese yield increased from our normal (for our hard, aged cheeses) of about 14% (on our hard cheeses) to 16%. (If making it just with Nigerian milk, the yield was 17.5%). So the usual 20 gallons of milk produced 3 or 4 more pounds of cheese (from 23.8 pounds to 27.2 pounds).  If we had been milking twice a day, there would have been about 25 gallons of milk which would have yielded (at 14% yield) 30 pounds of cheese. So only about 3 pounds less cheese for a lot less work, feed, and chemicals.

After eight weeks we had our 2nd DHI test. Interestingly, components and SCC all went back to normal, but total herd production held, thanks to the high producing LaMancha and crosses. During test week, we were having a heat wave of all the days over 100F, so I am hoping that was what affected components, as they just don’t spend as much time browsing when the weather is so severe.

Here are the test day herd numbers comparing one year to the next:

June 2012, Twice a day milking: Nigerians: Milk = 2.8 pounds, Fat = 5.92%, Protein = 4.20 %, SCC = 134,000

July 2012, Twice a day milking: Nigerians: milk=2.6 pounds, fat = 6.2%, protein 4.00%, SCC 76,000

June 2013, Once a day milking, Nigerians: Milk = 2.1 pounds, Fat = 7.4%, Protein = 4.26 %, SCC = 282,000

July 2013, Once a day milking: Nigerians: milk = 1.6 pounds, Fat = 5.83  , Protein 4.46 %, SCC = 86,000 (Note temperatures were over 100F during the days surrounding this milk test)

Here are how some of our better milkers are holding up:

Brown Sugar (2nd freshening 2 year old ND) May TAD: 3.1 pounds, June OAD: 2.7 pounds, July OAD: 2.7 pounds

Cocoa (first freshening yearling ND) May TAD: 2.8 pounds, June OAD: 2.6 pounds, July OAD 2.0 pounds

Prudence (first freshening, but extended lactation 50:50 Nigerian LaMancha) May TAD: 3.5 pounds, June OAD 4.6 pounds, July OAD 3.5 pounds

Wanda (2nd freshening 2 year old LaMancha) May TAD, 9.2 pounds, June OAD 8.9 pounds, July OAD 9.3 pounds . (This is the doe whose udder shots are above)

I will definitely update this post once our August test is complete. For now, most of the doe’s production has lowered, but we didn’t  have any does in 2012 that were on extended lactations, that really has to make a difference. The purebred LaManchas and Lamancha crosses are doing better than most of the Nigerian Dwarfs, no surprise there, either. But I believe I can improve upon these numbers by paying close attention to the does who can sustain it well – as we already do by testing how they do with extended lactations, and then choosing those genetics.

Stay tuned!

Update: 9/15/13 – Just found this research paper on high producing Alpine Goats on once a day milking. really great! http://www.journalofdairyscience.org/article/S0022-0302(09)70879-3/fulltext



71 thoughts on “Once a Day Milking – a Viable Option for Quality of Life

  1. Thank you Gianaclis, for taking the time to do this and sharing your findings. OAD is the only method of milking our small herd of Nigerians that works with our family commitments. I am often treated as though I am abusing my animals, by some producers that feel TAD is the only way. All of my girls produce rather well considering for 5 months out of the year that they are milked, the temperature is well over 100 degrees in addition to only being milked OAD. We have also,(knock on wood) never had a case of mastitis. This year’s FF are each giving roughly a 3/4 of a quart per day in this heat with babies still on them and things only get better as it cools off and the babies are weaned 🙂 Eventually I think I would really like to shift to Fall kidding to see how they do earlier in their lactation without the effect of the heat, but so far I haven’t been very successful with breeding in our very hot Spring. I’m excited to follow your progress!


  2. I really appreciate being able to share your experience with OAD milking, Gianaclis. Having your books, ideas, and expertise available has been invaluable to me as we begin building our own mini-Nubian micro dairy here in Wisconsin. I’m hoping if I am careful with my genetic choices when buying and breeding, I can start the business with OAD since we also farm and have a boarding kennel business. Really looking forward to reading future reports.

    • Thanks for your kind comments Meg! So far, their udder anatomy seems to be the key, Nigerians aren’t so great in that category, but I do have some that are pretty good. Let me know how your mini’s do!

      • Which breeds do you feel has the best/correct udder anatomy for OAD? You mentioned your LaManchas were doing well. Perhaps I want to buy some kids from your Nubians who have the great udder for that and breed them to Dwarves out here? 🙂

      • I think so far, that it is an individual trait. We have two LaManchas, one (the one in the photo) is doing much better than the other. We have four Lagerians (what I call the crosses) two of them are doing much better than the other two. (and their udders reflect this). I have not milked the other big breeds, so don’t know! But when we have shown our goats and observed the udders of the winners milked out during the Best in Show class, it seems the best does have this potential. Anyone else reading this that has other breeds, I would love to hear what you think!

  3. This is awesome! Gianaclis…we JUST the beginning of July went to once a day. Kinda got a bit of a life back. Michael and I can both relate to the “feeling guilty” part. We’ve had about a 12% drop in production with one doe running an 18 month lactation and producing just over 7# each morning.

    Thanks for sharing all this info. Love learning from you! lylah

  4. Thank you so much for writing about your experience with OAD milking! That has been our farm’s preferred method almost since we got started with our Nubians and Nigerians, and I always am told I’ll never see maximum production this way. I am so happy to see your results and see that although production is less, it’s not halved! Truly enjoy your blog and learn so much from you!

  5. Very interested to follow your results over time. I have been milking once a day for a few years now once the kids can keep up, including milking through FFs for 2 years before drying them off. They have done quite well this way and I’ve yet to have a case of mastitis from doing this. The reduction in time and energy, is well worth it, particularly since we cannot sell milk here. Pigs are a miracle on this milk, I think because of the increase in solids/fat as you describe. Do you just test the regular way with only one milking at 24 hrs?

    • The first milk test we did it the “regular” way, but then learned you aren’t supposed to vary what you do on test day, so the 2nd test was milkout at 24 hours, then record a milk weight of 0.0 then 12 hours later milk out as usual. Gianaclis Pholia Farm Creamery, LLC Nigerian Dwarf Dairy Goats Rogue River, Oregon http://www.pholiafarm.com


      • Gianaclis, so how are you doing your DHI milk test specifically, then? For about 4 or 5 years I milked twice a day faithfully, getting up at 1am to milk (re: my work schedule). AGS milk coordinator cautioned me to test exactly how I milk, which would mean my tester would have to be here at 1am. Uh huh… who wants to come and test my herd at 1am? LOL. So this year in April my husband got quite ill and was in hospital for two days. I slept on a hospital bed for two days and sure wasn’t thinking of milking my does, sad to say. I wasn’t even home. Anyway, since then my does have been milked once per day, except on test day. I still do my DHI milk test twice a day. So am I in error? Should I be milking only once a day on DHI test day?


      • Hi Peggy, Yes you do it once a day, putting the first milk weight as 0.0. This is how Lisa Shepherd from ADGA directed me to do it. Hope that helps! Amazing you kept going through all of that, good for you! Gianaclis Pholia Farm Creamery, LLC Nigerian Dwarf Dairy Goats Rogue River, Oregon http://www.pholiafarm.com

      • Yup, and to top it all off, a doe was kidding (1st freshener) during that time too. I do take my milking seriously, but its sure not been easy. I also have a job where I leave for milk at 3:30am. so this means that I would have to get up about midnight to get 17 or 18 does milked and strained before work. That’s hard too.

        Some of these does have been milking for about 20 months or thereabouts and still milking.

        Thanks so much Gianaclis.


  6. Interesting comments – here in New Zealand OAD milking is quite common in cow dairy herds, particularly Jersey herds who as a breed seem to cope better with this regime. Given that in cows you have to have around a 12 hour break between milkings so if you are TAD, i& not prepared to get up at 4.30 AM or 5, it means you are still going to be milking late at night. Farmers with bigger herds find that getting good quality staff is a constant problem because of the unsocial hours and therefore if you have a husband and wife partnership & delete the outside staff factor, OAD is far more sensible and over a three year period, many find that production is increased. Probably because in NZ, with our temperate climate, cows are out in the pasture all year and walking to and fro from the milking shed to the paddocks will involve maybe a several kilometer walk for the cows and by cutting milking there is less stress on their hooves during the walking time and more time for grazing/resting. At Cwmglyn Farm, we only have 4 milking cows and have always milked OAD. Morning milking takes place around 8 AM, which means cheese making can commence before 9 and therefore finish and final clean-up can happen by late afternoon. Much more civilised than having to start milking again just after the cheese room has just been cleaned up! DairyNZ website has interesting statistics & information on this. We do a daily RMT on each cow and have no mastitis problems. Biddy Fraser-Davies, Cwmglyn Farmhouse Cheese, Eketahuna, New Zealand.

    • Hi Biddy, You New Zealand folks are leading the way! One of the research papers I linked to the article is out of NZ. It does say that Jersey’s are more likely to have the right udder anatomy (larger cistern) than Holsteins.

      Do you start at once a day or wait until after they have peaked? Do your cows raise their own young? Gianaclis Pholia Farm Creamery, LLC Nigerian Dwarf Dairy Goats Rogue River, Oregon http://www.pholiafarm.com


  7. YAY!! I, too, am grateful Gianaclis for validation on my OAD “choice” borne of necessity! As I’m getting more serious about dairy start-up and looking at numbers, I see I now may get to change those, thanks to you!! The idea of going back to TAD, the increase in grain, time spent milking and cleaning, and $$ needed for additional help was not at all appealing. Now, however, I have validation and help in looking outside the USA box. Thanks to you and your readers! Also helpful to first learn of cistern vs. productive tissue. Any pointers on where to look for more info on this and how to discern the difference in my Nubians?? I can see it in the one doe who has been milking for 26 mos. now, but wonder about how to determine otherwise?? Thank you again for your scientific as well as artistic mind!!!

    • Thank you for your kind words!! As far as evaluating your ladies, I would simply start comparing how their udders feel after milking to how much milk they are giving and make notations that will give you information over time. I don’t think there is a way to say, simply from how the udder looks, how the doe will do, but it is a good starting point. You know how it is, there is always does that defy all of what the “norm” tells us – like even legs and feet. Some that look bad, hold up great over time. Let’s face it, the goats want us to pay attention to them and how they perform, not what the research says. 🙂 Gianaclis Pholia Farm Creamery, LLC Nigerian Dwarf Dairy Goats Rogue River, Oregon http://www.pholiafarm.com


  8. I think visual aids would be very helpful for the cistern vs. production question. Full and empty photos of a doe with a small cistern and then a doe with a large cistern. Is that possible? Anyone know where to find such a thing? I love learning the why and wherefores of things.

  9. Hi Gianaclis, in reply to your comment -we might milk twice a day for a couple of days right after calving to relieve any post birthing swelling on the udder, depends on the cow, but normally it’s just once a day straight off, so it’s usually 10 milkings before I can use the milk for cheese – my RMP states that it has to be 10 milkings for heifers calving and 8 for mature cows, but I usually leave it 10 milkings for both. I always keep a few litres of frozen colostrum so that we can make sure the new born calf has at least 1½ litres of good quality colostrum (first milking) within 15 minutes of birth. We raise the calves in a lovely calf rearing pen we made out of an old fruit cage which has one end enclosed on three sides. We provide a deep litter of untreated wood shavings and clean any poos as generated. The fruit cage became redundant as we never had time to prune the fruit bushes! Afraid the grape vine has finally been pruned to death by the calves! When the calves are a week or so old we open the gate into the adjoining paddock, which is kept solely for calf feeding so the calves are not contaminated with adult eliminations. We find they just take themselves back to their warm sleeping quarters whenever they want a nap or the weather turns nasty. The cows never seem to be distressed after we take the calves away, usually after about 4 hours or so, as they can see them when ever they pass and as we feed the calves 4 small feeds a day for the first weeks or so, they never cry with hunger. I think it’s a bit like human mums who might have a few quarms dropping the children off to playgroup the first time, but then they rather relish the time to themselves because they know they are being well looked after! We stagger the calving so I have a couple of cows calving in the autumn and a couple in the summer to ensure I have a goodly supply of milk 12 months of the year. Cows are artificially inseminated – The Jersey Breeders Association of NZ is so pleased with what I am doing to promote the Jersey Breed as cheese makers that they have awarded me 3 free straws a year from their top bulls for as long as I want. A lovely neighbour stores the semen for me in her gas bank & does the deed in exchange for a cheese!

  10. Going to the NZ link you provided, Gianaclis, it was interesting to read of the increased incidence of black mastitis when farmers are on a OAD regime – we had only one incidence of this in Gwendolyn, my first cow. She came in for her usual milking and I thought she looked a bit under the weather – her paddle test was OK but not great on the Right rear quarter, so I decided to get the Vet out as I wasn’t happy. He arrived about two hours later and, in that time, the quarter affected was like brown custard. Hugh (the vet) took a sample for culture and gave her some Teteracycline, which was all he happened to have with him. I try to do things as organically as possible but as this was so serious, the health outcomes for Gwendolyn were more important than my principles! I commenced milking that quarter out by hand 3 times a day, being very careful not to infect or touch the other quarters. About 2 days later I rang Hugh to ask what the result was on the cultures he took, he said the lab had said that whatever it was, it was unusual and that it was resistant to everything but Teteracycline. Two days later he rang me up to ask if she was still alive! I replied that she was fine. He was amazed that not only did she survive, but that she did not lose the quarter (it usually goes gangrenous so it goes black and falls off, if the cow does survive, which is why it is known as Black Mastitis) nor, in fact, did she even lose production in that quarter. Hugh had never known a case where this had happened. He put it down to the fact that I knew my cow so well, she was seen professionally so quickly and he happened to have the only medication that would work in the circumstances and that the infection was physically removed 3 times a day as it developed in her udder. At the time I only had the one cow, so could lavish this attention on her, if she was one of 500, she would mostly be left to die or shot to put her out of her misery. It is an insidious bug that is mostly soil borne and can live for months in sheltered areas.
    She was a wonderful cow. Sadly her last calf was born with it’s hooves sticking out and it must have ruptured her gut. She died of peritonitis a week after calving. Fixing a colostomy bag on a cow would be a nightmare proposition…… We were heartbroken, she was such a wonderful animal. We put leg splints on the calf (a bull) and it took about a week to straighten his feet so he was fine, but somehow that was poor consolation.

    • I’m sorry you lost her to such a sad end with calving! Good job caring for her during her brush with severe mastitis. I have seen photos of a goat loosing her udder to gangrenous mastitis. Truly it turned black and then started sloughing off. She lived, but with a nature performed mastectomy. Thank you for all of your input, Biddy! Gianaclis Pholia Farm Creamery, LLC Nigerian Dwarf Dairy Goats Rogue River, Oregon http://www.pholiafarm.com


  11. Great article. We have a small herd of purebred Nubians and since we are just a homestead, not involved with the dairy business, our milk is consumed by us or livestock (yes, pigs do very well on milk). We use our milk for a variety of dairy products but we can be overcome by the “too much milk” syndrome.

    Both last year and this year, I switched over to OAD after 60 days or so. Production levels did drop but leveled out within a few days. Several of our Nubians are “SG” performers (Superior Genetics milkers) and have large udder capacity, of course. Without a large udder capacity, a high yield could never be achieved. One SG Nubian is older (now 8 years, bred yearly) and although her yield is exceptionally good at 15 pounds/day TAD, her udder capacity does not have the volume of another 3 year old “SG” milker who yields about 13 pounds/day TAD. Both of these milkers, when switched over to OAD reduced their yield to 10 pounds/day and 10 pounds/day. Different percentage drops, depending upon the goat, which indicates to me that udder construction and capacity (perhaps age) play a role in the variations between TAD and OAD. Reviewing daily milk records could determine their actual percentage drops.

    Although there is a marked loss in milk yield with OAD management, I much prefer milking once a day, especially when there are the bottle-fed kids. (Our herd is disease-free and we have never encountered mastitis with any of our does.)

  12. Thank you Gianaclis for this thread. My first goat is a pholia goat, since your farm is what got me ‘hooked’ on ND’s. I had been wondering about OAD, due to family commitments. So far my first two years I was only able to TAD for 4-5 mos and then needed to go to OAD. I want to start DHIA next spring and was trying to figure out how I could accomplish both. I also didn’t know about the cistern, thanks for the photos. I have one who I now realize is a smaller cistern than my other doe. I will continue to follow this thread and thank you again for your books and knowledge!

      • My first nigerian, is out of pholia farm km pixie, and pholia farm km houdini. My new bucklings dam is PHolia farm DS Midnight (who btw is now 7*M).
        When you say a smaller cistern would that be the same as what they call ‘capacity’?

  13. I have been milking once a day or this year, every other day, with my Saanens, due to my husband’s dementia progressing. I was told by the goat DHI supervisor that I HAD to milk twice a day for Owner Sampler, so what I do is put the gals on twice a day for 2 days, do my DHI test and then go back to my normal milking. According to a milk supervisor on this FB group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/DHIAgoats/ I can do once a day OS milk test. I just need a verification test before day 150. That would be so much easier!

    My vet, who works for one of the MEGA CAFO dairies in Jerome, ID is on me to milk twice a day to avoid mastitis. Yes, I do have a couple gals that get Staph sp (usually) a few days after freshening and I have to fight it thru their lactation, but the rest of the gals realize that their normal life is different from other goats and do just fine. Doing DHI lets me know what their SCC is regularly. If it’s real high (1-2M), I run samples over to Jerome to Udder Health to see what it is & doctor appropriately.

    Since going to OAD milking, my life isn’t as stressed!

    • Lisa Shepherd at ADGA is the head of the program and is the one that told me how to do it. She is the last word, so you can always check with her. How has your milk production been?


      • I’m curious to follow this thread. Next year will be our first DHIA and due to location we’ll be on OS, once a day sure would be nice.

      • We are on test plan 02, AM/PM one of the innovative test plans. Once a day works for this plan. Again, Lisa Shepherd at ADGA would be the final word, so if you are unsure, check with her. Remember DHI is for US to learn how our herds are doing, not necessarily to compete for awards only. So if you have a way of milking that is working for you, you should not be changing it simply to be on milk test – otherwise it is not representative of what your herd is actually doing. Hope that makes sense! gianaclis


      • How has your milk production been?
        It’s been good. I told the DHI goat supervisor that my gals dropped only .5 to 1.5 lbs on OAD milking and she wouldn’t believe it…said it wasn’t possible, that their production should have dropped by half. It never has….I weigh every milking and am on DHI.

        When I ran out of hay early Jul and with HOT temps (95+ for weeks), I went to once every other day milking. With that the gals dropped about 2 lbs each…but I attribute that to the poor pasture grass and HOT temps than the EOD milking. I lost a couple unpasteurized milk customers during the heat and grass phase, but have picked up a couple more recently. So now that it’s cooler and I have hay, I’m back to OAD milking. They’ve gained back a little, but not much. Four does are at 9 mths milking and others are 165 to 183 days.

      • Tracy Zumwalt says:
        I’m curious to follow this thread. Next year will be our first DHIA and due to location we’ll be on OS, once a day sure would be nice.

        Lisa Shepard is on the FB Group that I linked above. I will ask her how to do the OAD OS DHI testing. My tester is a person that doesn’t have goats, which would work except she’s borrowed a lot of money from me and that could compromise her being my tester. I’m just trying to get thru this year and will not be using her next year. None of the gals are close to being in the Top 10. There are people that want to do DHI in south-central ID, but 40-60 miles is too far to travel (I’m used to living in s.e. MT where the next town was 40 miles and Miles City…for competitive shopping…was 120 miles away). I am a young lady’s tester & if we can get one more for a group, we’ll go that route. Otherwise, I am just wanting my gals to earn their stars.

  14. Thank you, Gianaclis, for another very informative article. I’m a newbie hobbyist dairyer — I have a small herd of Nubians and Alpines and have been making homestead cheese for three years (love your artisan cheesemaking book!!!). I’ve always milked OAD and wish that all hobbyist and small-production operations knew about the benefits of OAD milking. I’d like to see this promoted more at goat education days, associations events and in publications. My partner and I both work full time and milking OAD makes a world of difference in terms of our sanity, our relationship, and helping making sure we enjoy our animals and don’t feel like slaves to their udders. If I ever wanted to increase production I would have more goats freshen for OAD milking rather than go twice a day. Thanks, Gianaclis, and I’m looking forward to your third book!

      • I actually leave the kids on their dams for the first two weeks then separate them at night (dams are tested CAE neg.). Then I go straight into milking OAD in the AM. Since the kids are with their moms all day, I don’t have to worry about the udders getting too full and have had no mastitis problems (except with a yearling who has a precocious udder, but that’s another story). I get about 8 lbs./day from each doe at their peak, depending on the doe and how many kids she has on her. I did have a Nubian doe last year who kidded with triplets 11 days early — two males didn’t survive, the female did as a bottle baby — that doe I had to milk twice a day for the first few weeks because her volume was so high. Then I switched to OAD and was getting 10 lbs/day on average well into the fall.

  15. My question is this, as well. How do we test specifically to know if does are giving 15 to 20% less milk with once a day milking? I mean,,, because how do we know what they would give if they were on twice or 3 times per day?

    • Peggy, My registered Saanens are on DHI: Dairy Herd Improvement. DHI has different programs in the American Dairy Goat Assoc (ADGA). I have a tester that comes twice a day, once a month. She weighs and then takes samples of the milk to AgSource over in Jerome for Butterfat, Protein and Somatic Cell Count (SCC).

      This spring the goat DHI supervisor told me I could not do once a day milking on the Owner Sampler program (not sure that is correct). This is my 3d yr of OAD milking. So, I kept my tester, milk OAD until 2-3 days before testing when I milk TAD, do my test and go back to OAD. I have always weighed each doe’s milk pretty much most milkings. I had many people tell me I would lose half of my milk so why do that? In my herd of 8 milkers, that is NOT the case. I’m getting 12 to 24 oz less then on the TAD milking. Even with once a day milking, my gals do not get tight udders with the larger amount of milk.

      Since I have my Idaho Permit to sell unpasteurized (REAL) milk, this past kidding, I tested the girls SCC every 3-4 days to see when it dropped. I left the kids on instead of pulling/bottling. By day 14 most of the girls were down below 200,000 and immediately went to OAD. Four does had kidded in Jan, none in Feb and the rest in Mar & Apr. My first test was 55 to 62 days later. One doe tested at 12.3 lbs and she was close to 11.5 lbs on OAD according to my calendar where I started keeping track of weights. Each animal is different. Some may not like doing OAD, but my gals have to follow my life and they do good really.

      • Laura, that is very interesting that you milk TAD a few days before the does are going to be DHI tested. I have been on DHI for about 3 years now, myself. I’ve always milked TAD, until this April when my husband was in hospital. I’m surprised my girls didn’t dry up with that episode! But its interesting that you milk TAD for several days before you test. That’s an interesting twist. So does that bring the girls up quite a bit in production to do that? I should try that.

        I too want to get licensed to sell milk. I’m in Utah and I think that I might have to put in a septic system. That is more money than I can afford right now. We are in the process of putting in our milking facility, though.

        you say you test your SCC every few days. Of course its automatically tested monthly through DHI. so how are you testing it every few days? I would like to do that, myself. My father-in-law is a microbiologist and his lab is going to teach us how to test fecals and also milk bacteria.


      • Well, I’ll try this again. I think the other message didn’t go through.
        Its interesting that your DHI supervisor said you can’t do OAD. I asked Lisa Shepherd of ADGA and she said that if on OAD, that the one milking weight should be listed as a 0 poundage and the other poundage/milking would reflect the poundage for the test day.” She did not say that if on OS that OAD milking can’t be done. She did say, however, that milk production will be down. And besides, the registry doesn’t know if you are on OAD or TAD or Three x/day. All they get, usually, is the Final doe sheet.

        Maybe the reason your supervisor said that, is because it does cut production. Its hard to say. Did you ever ask her?


  16. I also did suspect that milking times re: 12 hours or 3 times per day is largely cultural. I did do a little test a few years ago on one of my does and experimented with 3 times per day milking. It was in the heat of the summer and her milk did go up. Needless to say with my employment schedule, I did not keep up the 3 times per day very long!

    So basically, then, you are saying that production would go down about 15 to 20%, but butterfat etc go up? I would submit that probably the reason butterfat increases is that it seems, at least on my herd, that the less milk a doe gives, the higher the butterfat. This would be one reason why does who kid in spring will have higher butterfat in the fall (give less milk), then in spring, milk production goes back up and butterfat go down.

    My does have been holding quite steadily on their production until this last few weeks. We have had a cold snap and that does not help at all. I raise mostly Nigerian Dwarf and a few Mini Nubian.
    Some of variances on my does from twice a day milking in March (twice a day), then April to Oct (OAD). Reason I went to once a day was because my husband was in hospital for two days and I was there with him. I wasn’t thinking about goats until I had a panick attack after the first day of no milking. By the time I got someone there to milk, they hadn’t been milked for 1 1/2 days. One doe didn’t get milked for 2 days (Deluna). Its a wonder the entire herd wasn’t dried up! But they have come back, despite the OAD. These are a few of my does….:
    1) Nigerian Dwarf Cocoa – Feb 2.9 milk BF 5.6% (this is a doe who easily milks extended lactations and when I am milking her right, she will give quite a lot and hold indefinitely. This year with the amount of does and my employment, I wasn’t able to milk many of my does, so just left kids on them. Thus, Cocoa’s lower milk this year, but still good.). Her first 2nd freshening lacatation was 4.3 pounds (not sure the BF right off hand)…. March 2.0 mlk 3.4% BF, (then onto once per day milking…
    Average from April through Oct 1.4 milk 5.9% BF with high in Oct of 8.3%

    2) Nigerian Dwarf DeLuna – (this is a doe that I purchased last year as a 1st freshener. I am positive that her previous owner/breeder didn’t milk her. When I purchased her she was giving 1/4 cup and not long I had her up to 1 1/4 quarts, where she remained until I forced her to dry up. This doe is one, like Cocoa that if I milk her more milkings at any stage of her lactation, her milk will go up in short time frame. She’s proven that.)
    Feb 2.4 milk 7.2% BF, March 2.0 milk 6.9% BF, onto once per day milking… average from April to Oct 1.4 milk 6.9% BF with high BF of 7.9%

    3) 3rd gen Mini Nubian Tasha is now at 5;69 DIM. I was getting (at 10 months lactation 3.3 pounds, then sent her to my neighbor’s for breeding. My neighbor though Tasha was drying up re: Tasha was in huge heat and dropped production on that day and my neighbor didn’t know the the doe, so undertook to dry Tasha up. She was hardly milking Tasha. I told her to get back to milking Tasha and then I got her back home after a month and brought Tasha’s milk back up to 3 lb where she remained until the last few weeks. I don’t know what Tasha’s peak was, because she wasn’t on DHI then and I didn’t own her. However, her highest production for me at 99 DIM was 5.9 lb with BF of 5.2%, but her peak BF was in April (11 months lactation) with 2.2 lb milk and 7.1% BF)
    Feb 3.3 milk 5.8% BF, March 2.0 milk 6% BF, then onto OAD… average 2.2 milk 6.2% BF

    4) 1st Gen Recorded Grade Mini Nubian 1st freshener… (I’ve no idea what her peak was, because her previous owner was barely milking her for the first two months. Her peak milk with me was 2.7 pounds and 6.1% BF — not same milk test)
    Feb 2.4 milk 5% BF, march 2.7 milk 4.9% BF, then onto OAD… average 2.1 milk 5.1% BF with high of 6.1% BF in Oct

    These are just some of my girls, so I’d have to figure out if this works with the 15 to 20% drop in milk and increase in BF. I honestly don’t know how to know what they would have milked had they been milked twice a day since April. I haven’t had time to make much cheese, so I don’t know on that. Just wondering how you test to know the difference? meaning each doe will only be at that stage in her life once in her life. I’m very happy, with this article. It gives me a lot of hope with the OAD. Glad to know that cheese yield is good with OAD. Thanks for sharing. I just am wondering how to know how to do DHI test with OAD and also how to know what they would have done had they been milked TAD or 3x/day.


  17. Okay, so we have been milking TAD for many years. About 5 years ago we unfortunately and unknowingly introduced CAE into our Nubian herd so now we scoop the kids up before they get their first drink of colostrum and heat treat colostrum and milk to bottle feed. Even tho our small — and getting smaller herd due to our age and physical ability — has tested CAE negative that stuff scares me and I don’t want to have to go thru that mess again! So now we have been seriously considering OAD milking as it is hard to find anyone willing to do some milking chores if we have late doctor appointments or whatever. I’m a little afraid of doing OAD – I don’t want them to explode!! LOL!! However I have a fairly young herd (because I sold all that tested CAE positive) and only one that is up in years – she is over 8 years old and in her prime gave almost 2 gallons a day. I suppose I have questions more about how do you go about feeding them then if you are only milking OAD? Do you feed grain only once while you are milking them? Do you just peek in on them in the evening to make sure all is well? Feed hay twice a day? We have just a few customers who want “good” milk and not store bought “swill” as one customer puts it so we don’t need a tremendous amount of milk produced – – we just want and need the work load to reduce at this time in our lives.
    By the way, thanks for all the info!

  18. What a great article and comments! My question is this. Does it affect the taste of the milk since it stays in so long and only gets milked oad?

  19. Thank you Gianaclis for your article! And I love love love your Mastering Artisan Cheesemaking book! It has so helped me pull all the pieces together to make wonderful hard cheese. I especially loved all the info about P.H. I think that was the missing link for me.

    We have a small herd of 13 Nubian goats and one Brown Swiss cow. As we are planning to milk the goats OAD this year, I had a few questions.

    1.We moved our cow to OAD after several months of lactation. (It was a life saver! My children/free labor crew are also growing up lol.) To get to the amt of milk that was sufficient for us with the cow, we simply cut the grain in half and milked her OAD. Do you do the same with goats? And just feed them the grain OAD DURING milking time only?
    2. Do you bottle feed your babies? And if so, do you still have the time constraints of TAD, at least until your babies are milked?

    Thank you in advance!

  20. Actually our cow is a Jersey/ Brown Swiss cross.
    one more question …

    *This year do you plan on starting off at birth going to OAD or will you just take a “wait and see” approach to each doe?

    Thank you again for all your time and effort to document and share your experiences and educate the rest of us:)

    • Hi Allyson, sorry to take so long to get back to you, it is kidding season, aka crazy season! We switched to TAD milking after a good chunk of the does kidded. I really want to see how much some of the new ones milk in the beginning – but will switch to OAD by June, I am pretty sure. We have one doe that is a possible breed leader for this lactation, so may keep her on TAD.
      Your cow sounds gorgeous! I miss my cows, a bit!
      Thank you for your kind words too, I wish I had time to do another post now, but will someday!

  21. Strangely, the article does not consider the option of OAD with a kid/kids on the doe. Here, you separate the kid at 4pm and milk the doe in the morning. The kid then goes back to mom for the day. This avoids all the labour and hygiene issues associated with bottle feeding of the kid.

  22. Hi Barry, you are right about the once a day milking with kids nursing being a great option. I didn’t cover it, as I feel it is a separate topic with the animal truly being “milked” many times a day – by the kid and the human. In addition for the person milking for 10 months or more, it is not as likely that the kids will be able to stay for the full lactation – either because they are weaned or sold or bucks. So I wanted to focus only on the removal of the milk at 24 hour intervals. Hope that makes sense! Gianaclis

    • Greetings Gianaclis, thank you for the reply. What you have said does indeed make sense. Here in the southern hemisphere, we are very close to the first kids dropping. I am going crazy about deciding whether or not to separate the kids after three days. It does seem the best all-round option, leaving one free to then decide on whether or not to apply OAD.

  23. Hiya Gianaclis,
    I’m just wondering if you’re still keeping up your OAD schedule?
    I’m a cheesemaker here in Japan and I milked my old herd OAD, but there were already a couple of goats with chronic mastitis so I had to be very vigilant.
    I’m just about to start milking a new yearling herd in Hokkaido so I’d love to hear what your experience has been over the past few years.

  24. Hi Rob,
    We sure are. I still love it so much! I recommend checking each doe at freshening for SCC and then as you go, check them monthly or weekly and see how they do. For those with chronic mastitis, can you have the milk cultured? Is culling them an option?

  25. Hi Anna, we just make the switch. Every year I’ve done it at a bit different times. I usually like to milk the first fresheners twice a day for a month or two just to see how they do and to make them pro’s on the milk stand, but this year I’m leaving the kids on part time (so really it’s not once a day milk removal). In Europe dairy farmers are known to only do once a day on a single day of the week too, just for a break – say for Sunday night dinner. You can feed the animals a bit less grain and/or alfalfa the day before to help reduce the volume. I hope that helps!

  26. I have always heard of once a day milking with having the calf drink the other half of the day then removing the calf so she can build up milk for 12 hours before milking but from how i reed your post it sounds like there are does that are not feeding kids/calves at all is this right?

  27. HI Brian,
    Yes, when cows and does share the milk with offspring and you milk once a day, that’s a bit different. True once a day means that there is about 24 hours worth of milk in the udder. That’s what the research articles I reference are referring to. The other method is useful too, though!

  28. Hi Dave, luckily it is allowed. You put 0.0 pounds for one the first milk weight and no sample collected. I was able to still get AR stars, but sometimes not on volume (particularly for a small sized doe). Lisa Shepherd at ADGA is the one who reassured me that fine. 🙂

  29. Ooh, it was definitely intriguing to discover that multiple DHI inspections have to be carried out to ensure the true quality of our milk supply. This reminds me of my aunt who’s been running her cattle farm for a few years now and is planning to expand her business by selling her products to other states. I’ll ask her to keep this tip in mind when she consults with an expert regarding the matter.

  30. Yes, there are sooo many regulations! Some states, for in state sales, have exemptions, but not when you go across the state lines. Oh course, I recommend my books and I do consultations also… 🙂

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