Does Milking Once a Day (OAD) affect milk production?

 We believe that milking once a day drastically reduces milk production and can even force does to dry up.  In fact, that can be one of the ways to start the dry off period of does and cows.   One article we read from where the Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta is listed as one of the sources of an article entitled


Says some very interesting things about Once a day (OAD) milking versus twice a day (TAD) or Three times per day milking.  I will quite from the above article, so I get it right.  I will also bold and place the parts that I want to highlight in Green, that I want to concentrate on.


Regular and complete milking is one of the requirements for continuance of lactation. The effect of changes in milking frequency on milk yield  varies widely between individual species (Davis et al ., 1999). Reducing milking frequency from 2x daily milking to 1x daily milking decreased milk yield from 7 to 38% in dairy cows (Stelwagen and Knight, 1997), 15 to 48% in ewes (Negrao et al. , 2001),  6 to 35% in dairy goat  (Capote et al., 1999) and increased the rate of loss of udder tissue (Carruthers et al. , 1993). However increasing milking frequency from 2x to 3x increased milk yield by 7 to 20% (Stelwagen, 2001). The mechanisms responsible for the increase in milk yield have not been identified but some researches suggest an increase in mammary epithelial cell (MEC) number (Hale et al ., 2003), reduction in MEC apoptosi” …

In another part of the article it says,



“The milk yield for 1x, 2x and 3x daily milking were 181.5, 322.2 and 334.8 mL/day/ goat respectively. The analysis of the results (table IV) showed that milking frequency had significant effect on daily milk yield.  The milk yield for 1x daily milking (181.5 mL/day) was  significantly lower by 43.67% and 45.79

It sounds like the study was done at least partly on the West African Dwarf goats, which are the ancestors of our United States Nigerian Dwarf Fairy goats.  We can see that milk production, from this study (and my own experience does greatly reduce milk production.  It can even make does dry up when the cold of the winter is upon us.

Another Article on going to Once A Day milking

This article says that once a day milking is a viable option for a busy schedule.  In many situations it probably is, if a person isn’t looking for high milk production or trying to prove that their herd can produce high milk production with good butterfat.

My Experience

In my experience and from that of the article from where the University in Nigerian are a source, milking once a day does greatly diminish the production.  Butterfat will go up, however, so cheese outputs aren’t diminished too much with Once A Day Milking (OAD).  However, if we want milk production with good butterfat yield as well, I personally feel that we need to milk at least twice a day, faithfully and have regular milking intervals.  At the same time, that is not always possible, as in my case with my employment.  So sometimes a person has to do what they can do.

I have a neighbor who says that dairy goats milk on a supply and demand basis. She means the more that we demand of them, the more they milk. I believe that is true.  A few years ago I tried 3 times a day milking on a few does and production did go up markedly.  Perhaps the reason is due the reduction of the epithelial cell production due to once a day milk interval, as suggested in the article from Nigeria.  This is further substantiated by another article.  This article suggests a few things:

  1. “ability of ruminant mammary glands to produce milk is determined by the number of cells secreting milk and their level of activity”
  2. “Changes in the number of cells in the udder occur during lactation.”
  3. “decline in milk production after peak lactation appears to be due to a gradual reduction in the number of milk-secreting cells”
  4. “Other factors are also known to modify cell turnover in the udder”
  • reproductive status
  • growth hormone treatment
  • milking frequency
  • nutrition”

Should you go to Once A Day Milking?

I think this is up to your schedule and what is going on in your life.  We were forced to go to Once A Day milking from April 2013 up to present, due to a family health issue and my personal work schedule in the bakery.

What has once a day milking done to my herd?  The butterfat is way way up, which is normal.  However, the milk production is way way down from the norm for our herd. Once a day milking has kept my does milking, but for an example, a doe who milked 1 1/4 quarts up through 483 days in milk on her 1st freshening, is at a little over a pint on her 2nd freshening.  That is not good.  My does are does who milk heavy and long lactations.  The only reason I have gone to once a day, is because I don’t have much choice.  I’m going to be working hard at going back to twice a day milking.

For some people, however, they may not want to milk in the winter months.  So for those people, once a day might be a viable option.  Whether or not you milk once or twice a day is dependent upon what you want or need in your life.

In our herd, our herd is milked year around and we are concentrating on developing a dairy herd that people can count on as true dairy goats.  The one thing that we have found in Once a Day milking and also the harsh inconsistent milking interval times that the Bakery Business where the owner works, is that our does stand behind us in milk production. They milk and milk.  However, Once a Day Milking is definitely NOT good on milk production, when trying to get the highest production we can get and see what our does can actually do.  Up until April of 2013, we did faithfully milk twice a day.

My Employment and How it Affects Milk Production

I work in a bakery and am grateful for the job.  However, the nature of this type of work is that milk times cannot be consistent and due to being to work at the  early hours of the morning, I can’t milk with 12 hour intervals.  My does adjust though, when I milk twice a day.  Up until April 2013, we would milk at 1am and 7pm.  On the rare occasion when my does were milked once a day, then went back to twice a day, production went back up.  This has been proven time again.  For instance, on of my Mini Nubians was milked once a day for a few weeks and production went very low. I brought the doe back home and milked her twice a day and her production at over a year into her lactation went back up to over 3 pounds (a little under 1/2 gallon) per day.  This is pretty consistent with most of my does.  They have the Will (desire) to keep milking.  My does are a herd who adapt and keep milking. As one long term breeder of Nigerian Dwarf and Oberhasli told me, “the true measure of a dairy goat is the Will To Milk.”

Milk and Butterfat yield when milk production goes down

We have found that when milk production goes down, the butterfat goes up.  Thus, here is the general lactation curve of a doe:

Spring freshening… Milk production steadily goes up until 8 weeks into lactation Milk production levels off and butterfat is good Later into the lactation, like in the fall, production drops again and butterfat goes up Next spring (extended lactations), production goes back up and butterfat goes down

Summary of Once a Day Milking, as I see it

  1. Milk production will likely go way down, in once per day milking and some does will actually dry up in the cold of winter or heat of summer.  The drop in production, according to the Nigerian University mentioned above can be as much as 43% drop.
  2. Butterfat will generally go up a lot, due to lower milk production, so cheese yield can be still good.
  3. Once a day milking can free up our milking schedule
  4. If one wants production from their does, and can milk twice a day, I feel it is very important to milk twice a day.  I feel this will give much higher milk yields that are more representative of the does.  We just have to realize that milking once a day milking can diminish production by up to almost half of what they normally would give in some breeds and does.
  5. Most of our herd has stood this 2013 test very well.  They have kept milking long term, but just that their production is much much lower than it is normally due to once a day milking. So I guess it has been a good test for them.