A farm walk organized by the National Dairy Council (NDC) recently took place on the Connelly family’s farm in Tuam, highlighting the importance of a good wash routine in maintaining high-quality milk production. The Connelly family has successfully maintained milk quality on their farm through various factors, including genetics, milking routine, and an effective wash routine for the parlour. While the farm has an auto-wash system in place, regular checks ensure that nothing is left to chance.
The farm’s wash routine involves 14 hot washes per week and a descale once every five days. Speaking at the walk, David Gleeson from Teagasc emphasized the key areas that farmers need to focus on to ensure proper washing of their plants. He advised farmers to determine the amount of water in the trough, as this determines the amount of water used in the parlour wash. Once the water amount is determined, farmers can calculate the detergent rate. For a hot wash, the detergent should be multiplied by 0.5% and for a cold wash, by 1%. For example, a 100L trough would require 500ml of detergent for a hot wash and 1L for a cold wash.
After determining the water and detergent requirements, farmers must then use the correct chemical at the appropriate time. Gleeson recommended using a caustic detergent with at least 24/25% caustic content, as it effectively removes fat and protein deposits from the line. The acid descaler, on the other hand, is used to eliminate mineral deposits from water. Gleeson advised that farms with hard water should include at least seven washes per week using the acid descaler. Even farms without hard water issues should incorporate at least two washes per week with the acid descaler.
Peracetic acid, a disinfectant for the plant, should be used in a separate circulation of the system. It has a minimal usage rate of 0.15% and does not actually clean anything within the plant. Ensuring the correct water temperature is crucial for an effective wash routine. The water temperature at the start of the wash should be between 75-80°C, and the end temperature should be higher than 45°C. The recommended circulation time for the wash is between eight and 10 minutes.
Gleeson emphasized the importance of using the correct solution volume, concentration, temperature, and circulation time to achieve an effective wash routine. By following these guidelines, dairy farmers can contribute to the production of high-quality milk and maintain the reputation of the industry.