Dairy Water Savings

Water usage can vary significantly across dairy farms – the most efficient operations use less than 2,000 litres per cow each year, compared to some which use almost 20 times that amount on each cow. Implementing efficient processes for milk cooling, vat wash and yard hosing can create big water savings.

Water usage efficiency

To reduce water use and improve efficiency in the dairy consider:

  • Only washing the section closest to the shed.
  • Limiting washing to the section of yard closest to the dairy to save water and reduce the risk of cows slipping as they enter the dairy. This can be an option if smooth concrete, steps, or ramps make using scrapers too risky.
  • Using low-pressure or high-flow rate hoses and give the whole yard a thorough hosing regularly to wash away the solids and keep drains open. This method works best if a scraper can be used first to remove most of the muck.

Yard wash frequently

There are times when the frequency of yard washing can be reduced substantially. Periodic hosing and the regular use of mechanical scrapers to remove the bulk of dry solids, can help farmers achieve this. For optimal outcomes, the cows need to have good footing on the concrete through a dimpled or cobbled pattern. Careful stock handling and use of a backing gate will minimise slips and injuries.

In drier times, farmers have reported scraping the yard every one to three weeks, only giving it a complete clean when rain can soften the built-up manure before a complete hose down. Drains should be covered, and the drier solids scraped away, while remaining solids can be broken up. The yards can then be pre-wet before flushing the remainder with a high-flow rate wash. The manure will be less of a hazard if the water can evaporate or drain away. Having dry weather and a yard slope of 2–3 per cent will help.

Other options

  • Wet dairy platform and yard surfaces prior to milking.
  • Use low pressure or high-flow rate hoses.
  • Strategically wash teats or dry wipe teats.
  • Use trigger nozzles on udder hoses.
  • Use manual or mechanical scrapers.
  • Install 'non-stick' surfaces in the dairy.
  • Use correct flow rates through the plate cooler – two to three litres to every one litre of milk.

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