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Efficient water use in the milking shed can lead to significant savings. This page provides tips to optimise water use during milk cooling, plant washing, and yard washing. For milk cooling, you can adjust the water and milk flow, ensure regular servicing of your cooler, and consider pre-cooling water. Minimising water for plant and vat wash involves using automatic shut-off for refill tanks, pre-heating, and repurposing hot water for cleaning. For yard washing, consider pre-wetting the yard, washing after each milking, and using high-volume low-pressure hose water. Additionally, various water-saving tips like recycling cooler water and capturing rainwater are shared.
A lot of water is used in the milking shed. Efficient processes for milk cooling, vat wash and yard hosing can add up to significant savings in water. The following tips will help identify opportunities to reduce water use and improve efficiency.
Liquid ring vacuum pumps
Half of the water from liquid ring vacuum pumps can be recycled (as long as the temperature is less than 40°C) and half captured for yard wash. Check the manufacturer’s specifications for your pump as the temperature of the water needs to remain below specific values.
Minimise the number of nozzles in the milking shed and consider using water blaster nozzles to reduce flows. Have smooth easy to clean surfaces in the dairy and use scrapers to wipe effluent off the rotary to speed up wash down. Consider air blasts or other methods such as floating plastic toys instead of water to get cows to back off.
Choosing the right system
Get water-use specifications from the manufacturer if installing a new system. Commercial yard washers and clean flood water washing are time efficient but can use a lot of water. Weigh up staff time, power costs and water use when choosing an efficient system for the milking shed.
Calculating effluent volumes
Reducing the volume of water used for yard wash down can significantly reduce effluent storage requirements. The Dairy Effluent Storage Calculator is a tool to determine the dairy effluent storage requirements for a dairy farm.
Capture and use rainwater
Rainwater from the dairy shed roof that drains onto the yard enters the effluent system. Capturing this rainwater by diverting the gutters into a tank reduces the volume of effluent you have to manage and store. It also provides water for yard wash-down which reduces the amount of fresh water required from your main supply.
Look out for overflows
Be vigilant to tanks or cylinders losing water and get everyone on farm into the habit of watching for problems. Installing an auto shut-off wherever possible will eliminate this risk of water loss.
Daily check on pressure of water at the taps and hoses
Low water pressure at taps and hoses can alert you to water loss in the system. On some farms, water pressure in the house may be affected by water use out on the farm. This can be a helpful sign any time day or night.
Floats in tanks should be set far enough down from the top that overflows are avoided. Check your tanks and make adjustments where necessary.
Recycle cooler water
If you have once-through cooler water in excess of what’s needed for yard wash-down, consider installing a tank close to the shed to store the excess. This water can be used later for yard wash-down or reticulated down the farm as stock water.