Plastic Fantastic Saves Time, Money in Sheds
One less job in the milking shed can make a huge difference in a dairying operation’s bottom line; changing miliking liners and tubing is now once a season job, saving time and money for some farmers.
Two years ago Northland farmers Warren and Gaylene Burke made the decision to eliminate rubber from their milking operation, opting for thermoplastic liners and tubing. Two milking seasons later, and like Phil, they are enjoying the benefits the plastic approach is bringing.
“They’re really good and very light, which makes a huge difference in how we work in the shed,” says Gaylene.
“The rubber was really heavy to lug around. The health benefits didn’t stop at humans either – the cows like plastic as it’s lighter and easier on their teats.”
Although Gaylene admits the thermoplastic liners and pipes are “a bit more expensive”, she counters that by saying they last twice as long and have other advantages as well.
“We like the transparency of the DairyFlo liners and piping – you can see the milk flowing through and we are alerted immediately to any problems and animal might be having, such as blood turning up in the milk. As soon as you put the cups on you can see everything which is helpful and time saving. You can also see what stage of the milking the cows are at and when they are just about finished.”
“We prefer the plastic to the rubber, not only for its weight and other benefits, but we milk faster and that’s got to be good for business.”
Central Plateau farmer Phil Shepherd has been dairying for more than 30 years.
On his 340 hectare block half way between Taupo and Tokoroa, he milks 750 dairy cows every day. Shepherd has been trialing using soft plastic milking liners instead of rubber for the last year and is impressed with the results.
“The new liners are just awesome. We’re not getting split liners and they are lasting much longer than their rubber counterparts. Plus, they’re more hygienic and the cell count is considerably lower than before.”
Although the initial cost to but the plastic liners was higher than rubber, Shepherd says the liners have cost-saving implications in the longer term. “We’re getting a whole season’s milking out of one set of liners, which is fantastic. Rubber liners only lasted for 2500 milkings and we’re up to 5400 now and still going.
“We’ll get through the entire season without changing them – traditionally we had to change the rubber twice if not three times during a season so there are significant savings to be make using thermoplastic in labour and downtime in the shed.”
Increased stock health is another positive benefit Shepherd has discovered using plastic liners. “There’s less teat damage and the plastic appears to be easier on the animal,” he explains.
Apart from the time and cost savings, microbe resistance and hygiene, thermoplastic is also strong, transparent and easily cleaner.
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