Innovation key to future of NZ dairy farming - DairyFlo

Innovation key to future of NZ dairy farming

Innovation key to future of NZ dairy farming

Innovation key to future of New Zealand dairy farming DairyFlo and Bayer team up at Fieldays Innovation Centre

The world’s first soft plastic milking liner and tubing system will be on show at Fieldays this year, designed to revolutionise dairy shed hygiene by removing rubber from the operation completely, preventing bacteria and minimising cell count in milk.


Hawke’s Bay company DairyFlo, a division of Polymer Systems International Ltd, has developed the liner and tubing system using a specialised thermoplastic elastomer (TPE),made by global innovation leader, Bayer. The system is the product of more than a decade of research and development collaboration between the two companies.

Bayer MaterialScience NZ business development manager Justin Gleeson says the company has a priority to partner with projects that are both innovative and that benefit the environment. “There has been a huge problem in the dairy industry world­wide for the last 50 years with the continued use of rubber liners and tubing in milking sheds.

Not only do bacteria enter via the porous rubber, the milk is exposed to lipids, cleaning and disinfectant agents and other chemicals. Add to that the pollution that rubber creates when it is burned or buried, and it makes good economic and environmental sense to replace with a thermoplastic, which is 100 percent recyclable,” says Mr Gleeson.

DairyFlo’s general manager Eddie Crawshaw agrees that using a plastic liner and tubing in the shed is a better choice for the environment, the farmer and the livestock. “The dairy industry needs to start looking at the ways its practices are impacting on the environment. The benefits of plastic as opposed to rubber in the dairy shed are not only a more sustainable operation due to its recyclable nature, but cost effective and time saving,” he says.

Polymer Systems International managing director Steve Crawshaw says the development of the liners and tubing was a natural progression for the company from the calf feeding teats it was already producing for the dairy industry. “Modern materials such as TPE are replacing rubber in many applications. It was during our visits to dairy sheds around the country that we saw the opportunity to apply the same technology we had developed for the teats, to the liners and tubing.”

For dairy farmers, replacing rubber with a soft plastic liner means they are changing the liners less frequently. Our testing and trials on farms throughout the country have seen the DairyFlo liners last three times longer than the average 2,500 milking lifespan of a rubber liner. This leads to cost savings because liners need to be replaced less often and the amount of downtime required every season to change out an entire dairy shed is significantly reduced,” explains Mr Crawshaw.

Mr Gleeson adds: “Unlike rubber, this specially developed plastic is 100 percent recyclable into a number of items including surfboard ropes and playground mats. In fact, many of the dairy shed matting used is made from recycled plastic milking liners. It’s a responsible approach to sustainability that the dairy industry needs to embrace.”

The Fieldays Innovation Centre is the ideal forum for the two companies to demonstrate the benefits of DairyFlo to the thousands of visitors who will attend. The Centre is the “showcase for the best industry developments and inventions that improve farming practices in New Zealand and beyond” and it is hoped that farmers will see both the cost savings and hygiene benefits that DairyFlo presents for their businesses.

Central Hawke’s Bay farmer Craig Alley has trialled DairyFlo alongside his existing rubber liners for the equivalent of 5,000 milkings. “I noticed that throughout this time, a number of the rubber liners were breaking and therefore needed changing out early on, whereas the DairyFlo liners came through the entire time trial unscathed.

“My staff liked working with the DairyFlo gear because it was light to lift and the tubes didn’t get caught up in knots like the rubber is inclined to. The DairyFlo tubes also stay on the stainless steel much better than rubber, which can slip off, especially from the air tube. We are looking forward to getting more DairyFlo in the shed.”

DairyFlo and Bayer see many opportunities for the system to be implemented outside of the dairy industry.

“With its anti­bacterial and non­absorbent properties, using plastic does not compromise the hygiene of a milk plant, which has huge implications for a company such as Fonterra,” says Mr Gleeson.

“We believe rubber will be obsolete in milking sheds and factories in the future.”

Facts about thermoplastic and DairyFlo tubing and liners

+ Microbe resistant – resistant to lipids, cleaning and disinfectant agents
+ Impact resistant, hygienic and easily cleanable
+ Excellent tear, wear, impact and abrasion resistance
+ Excellent strength and elastic properties even at minimal wall thickness
+ Elastic memory – maintains tension, unlikely to leak at joints
+ Transparent for instant monitoring of milk flow
+ Kink resistance – for the prevention of tube blockage
+ Lightweight ­ a cluster installed with DairyFlo liners will be approximately 10 percent lighter
+ 100 percent recyclable
+ Cost effective, at least double the life of traditional rubber liners
+ Passed AsureQuality assessment in New Zealand
+ International certification including the FDA, for milk contact
+ Developed, designed and manufactured in New Zealand

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