Of the hours spent on milk related activities, European dairy spend 50% to 75% of their time on milking and feeding. This has been analysed by European Dairy Farmers (EDF).
The Danish dairy farms with a milking parlour spend 20 hours of milk-related activities, of which nearly 17 hours of milking and feeding. They even spend a little less time than the farmers in Sweden, operating with a milking robot (AMS).
This comparison was independent of whether the Swedish farms where organic dairy farms. Dairy farms working with a parlour in Sweden spend much more hours per cow per year. This amount of labour is similar to those of German and French farmers.
Farmers within the Eastern European EDF branches spent overall the most hours working in the dairy barn. Though low hourly labour cost don't urge an increase in labour efficiency in these countries. According to EDF, the need to be more efficient with time is not so urgent for the farmers in these regions, because the wages for hired labour are still low. Besides feeding and milking, there are hours needed for housing (e.g. cleaning floors and boxes), health and fertility and irregular activities. It is clear that the Danish dairy farms spend the least hours on these activities, which suggest these farmers implement a high-quality and structured management.
Emmy Koeleman studied Animal Sciences at Wageningen University in the Netherlands. She is the editor of Dairy Global and All About Feed.