What was the challenge/ problem addressed?

Dairy farming is a labour intensive activity with most cows having to be milked at least twice per day. As most dairy farms are family farms, milking morning and evening can be anti-social and difficult particularly on smaller farms without employed labour. During the 1990’s some farms saw and adopted the practice of once a day milking in the early lactation period 6-8 weeks post calving, this in a seasonally compact all spring calving situation was a major help on farms where labour was scarce. Research at that time showed little or no reduction in milk yield. Around 2000 a number of farmers adopted once a day milking all year round as this had been done successfully in New Zealand. At that time a number of farmers who were in a discussion group asked their advisor to set up a discussion group for once a day milking herds. These farmers recognised that their systems, breeding, nutrition and animal health needed a different level of management and support compared to conventional herds who milked twice per day.

This group expanded and several farmers became interested in the practice. There was a clear knowledge deficit and an annual programme of events for OAD farmers was led by the then Teagasc Dairy Advisor Mr Brian Hilliard. These events which included a day long conference were a great success and were supported by Teagasc Research staff and expertise from international research and consultancy organisations.

Even though Brian Hillard has retired he still supports a group along with other advisors who have benefited from the pioneering efforts to reduce labour and to offer family run profitable dairy farms a good family life with less work and more time for social activities.

How did you solve the problem?

Advisor formed a group of interested dairy farmers and organised events for them, over time they became stronger as a group, active on social media and WhatsApp.

What are the success factors in solving the problem?

Discussion Group, targeted events, research back up.

Unexpected fails, if any 

Some farmers were joining for the wrong reasons.

Lessons learned 

Important to have positive can do attitude and an advisor who can leverage support for novel approaches to real problems.

What role does the advisor or advisory service play within the practical case?

 Strong technical, advocacy and organisational support.

Can your approach be transferred and/or adapted for other innovation challenges and regions?


Estimated transferability on a scale from 1 to 5
(where 1 is easy and 5 very difficult)


For sharing the experience on the good practice, please contact Brian Hilliard, phone +353872373292