Monday, 28 March 2011

Square Barrel Liners....should we be using them?

On our recent visit to New Zealand we noticed a high proportion of the dairy farms we visited were using the Skellerup "Square Barrel Liners"(SBL). Farmers told us that there was less cup slip & better teat end health. Many told us that BMCCs had fallen especially with heifers. The OAD milking herds seemed to have moved to the SBL too.

Skellerup the main supplier of liners in NZ say that the SBLs are now the biggest selling milking liner in NZ. Milfos International Ltd another NZ Milking supply company are about to produce their own SBL.

Jamie Mikkelson from Milfos told me that their inhouse trials showed lower teat irritation, cleaner milking, cleaner take off with ACRs & lower SCC. Very encouraging.

Square Barrel Liners are not new, they have been tried in the USA & other countries. A paper by Ynte et al from Cornell University reported less hyperkeratosis (roughness) on the teats & differences in yield & milkflow. Note this was with the SBL made in the USA (which is not the same as the NZ liner).

In Germany they have compared the traditional round liner with triangular liners(Not SBL). Hartmut Grimm wrote to me....

The first question should be: are any reliable results from any experiments available? In Germany we got some results about three shaped liners: stripping yield was higher with three shaped liners (600g versus 400g) and MOT was longer (490s versus 386s). Data are available only from DeLaval experiments. Another result (Vet. Doctor thesis Hannover/Germany) showed no differences between triangular and standard liners: ""liner shape did not affect significantly the milking and teat condition parameters of a reference group of quarters secreting normally throughout the entire trial. With triangular liners, another attempt was made to improve the technical milking conditions for cows. Yet and in comparison to conventional liners, milking pattern, teat skin condition and udder health were neither improved nor deteriorated by using triangular liners. The results of this study show however that special attention must be paid on correct handling and regular replacement of liners."" Rudovsky(2009) and Mein and Reineman (2009) found worse teat conditions with 3-shaped liners.

Mel Eden a highly respected NZ Milking Adviser said.....

"They slip less than other similar liners - presumably because the mouthpiece cavity vacuum is higher because of the narrow [permanent] pathway for air/vacuum to pass down to the claw from the mouthpiece. They milk out well, have a shallow mouthpiece cavity and a relatively soft mouthpiece that should collapse down during milking to reduce the swelling of the teat into the mouthpiece. This sounds as I am in high praise! They do work well but there are other liners that do a good job too so, when in doubt, we suggest trying them side by side with the farmer's current liner looking for clean, reasonably fast milkout with teats that look as if they have been massaged. [Red or blue teats showing poor massage]. The other 'fault' with liners, slip can be compared liner to liner by pulling down on the [front] teats - holding the claw securely with the other hand - about 10 seconds after cluster application."

Mel would advise different liners on the Front Teats (if there is Cup Slip)

"If farmers are having slipping problems they are definitely worth trying. And yes because front teats are generally narrower than hind teats, liners are more likely to slip. The Vacupulse liner could well solve the problem although other liners could do the same. And there could be other reasons for the slip. We continue to recommend a liner to solve a problem and often they would be different front and back. Not many people recommend the same as they think farmers would find the liners designated for 'front' or 'back' far too confusing. Naturally I disagree. If there is a slip problem and the hind quarters appear to getting milked out cleanly and quickly, I would definitely concentrate only on the front teats"

Which Milking Cup shells are suitable for use with SBLs.

Darold Klindworth from the Australian Milking Research Unit "Cow Time" said there is a real problem getting good research data on Milking Liners "Bottom line the only ones testing them are the guys selling them."

Much of the original Milking Liner Research has been done by Dr Graeme Mein.

The recommendation to change liners every 2500 milkings came from work Graeme did both in Australia & the USA. This is seriously important if you want a low BMCC & low incidence of Mastitis.

Getting research data on Milking Liners today is near impossible. This is a problem as there are alot of different liners on the are farmers to tell??????

Worse still how do farmers actually make a good decision about which Milking Liners to use.

Very good Question but who has the answer?????

On our visit to NZ farmers were keen to recommend the Skellerup NZ Square Barrel Liners. Mel Eden's suggestion of different liners front & back may help people who are having problems with cup slip. Organic farmers may find this a part solution to BMCCs.


One of the very impressive dairy farms where we saw the Square Barrel Liners being used was at the Rakaia Island Farm near Ashburton. This amazing farm is approx 14.5km long & 3-4km wide.

They milk over 6000 Xbred NZ bred dairy cows on Once a Day milking (OAD). Dave Turner said they were very impressed with the new Skellerup liners.

Friday, 18 March 2011

Beautiful Grazing Conditions But Regrowth Very Slow

The current grazing conditions on most UK dairy farms is ideal for early spring....the pasture quality is high & the soil is dry & firm. Pasture dry matters are high (approx 25%DM) & the utilization is very high.

Most pasture based dairy farmers have again successfully used the very simple spreadsheet known as the Spring Grazing Planner which is used internationally to plan spring grazing. It doesnt seem to matter if you are in Victoria Australia , New Zealand or Great works brilliantly! Nor does it matter if you are a Spring block calver or an Autumn works well.
The issue in the UK right now is that the pasture growth is very slow over most of the country. Probably because of dryness & the lack of sunshine. Growth in some of the southern counties is 20kgs/DM/ha/day or better but this isnt happening further north.
As a consequence average pasture covers are low or falling quicker than the feed budgets were expecting & the opening covers for the start of round two dont look good. So what to do?

More Nitrogen is NOT the answer as there is not enough moisture & the soils are still cold. As the soils are dry the rotation length can be cut without damaging either soils or pasture. To do this extra feed is going to be needed. In other words deliberately employ pasture substitution to slow the cows grazing rotation.
Silage added to the cows diet will have greater impact on the amount of pasture substitution than say extra grain fed. The pasture growth rates are well below demand so slow the rotation! Extra feed is going to be you have enough silage or are you going to be buying feed.....make up your mind & act quickly.
Discussion group members from thru out the UK have reported fields with very poor growth...some of these may have been damaged by frost.....some maybe short of nutrients....what ever the reason I think these need to be grazed now. Even if they are shorter in length/pasture cover(many of these non growing pastures were last grazed in November). The grazing will help to stimulate regrowth.

Look at your Grass wedge information & perhaps replan your grazing based not on covers but on the question..."Are the pastures growing fast enough?"
BEWARE RECIPE FARMING.....This is NOT the time to be following RECIPES (eg 30% rules of thumb). These recipes are dangerous & should NOT be used.....for goodness sake you need to be working from first principles & using your up to date pasture measurements to make the decisions.
I cant over emphasise how important the grazing residual is to quality later in the spring. The current dry conditions are ideal for cleaning the pastures right out.....but this in turn might be slowing recovery!
Now is the time to start measuring pastures again. If you are confident of pasture regrowth rates I'd stick to the Spring Grazing Planner.

What do you think?

Add your comments to the blog comment box below

Wednesday, 2 March 2011

What is a GB Olympic Oarsman doing Sharemilking in New Zealand?

Richard & Louise Hamilton are highly successful sharemilkers in the Bay of Plenty in New Zealand. However Richard was in the 1996 Great Britain Rowing team at the Atlanta Olympics.
This 6.5ft giant of a man was in the GB Rowing Men's Eight.
So why is this English Olympian milking cows in New Zealand?...did he ever imagine he would be milking cows in NZ?....after the Beijing Olympics Richard & Louise moved out to NZ. Initially he was a rowing coach at nearby Tauranga but discovered an opportunity to go dairying in the Bay of Plenty.
Richard & Louise make a great team as they have both strived to succeed.
Sharemilking in the NZ dairy industry provides opportunities for young people to establish their own businesses & to gain equity. Opportunities abound for the adventurous & those with determination.

Richard & Louise have two sharemilking jobs at Pongakawa, one 50:50 & a second job which is a "Lower order Sharemilking" job. (both for the same land owner & across the road from each other....just perfect!)
Here he explains to our group the financial returns from both types of sharemilking contracts he & Louise have at Pongakawa. The Lower Order sharemilking jobs do not involve much investment or capital costs by the sharemilkers but do provide an opportunity to get a foot into the industry & an opportunity to save cash from earnings. The herd must be purchased to be a 50:50 sharemilker....the income & cost sharing reflect the different share %.
The next step for Richard & Louise maybe an equity partnership.

Colin & Hazel Grainger-Allen moved to NZ from the SW of England (once members of both Ankle deep & GrassRoots DGs). They are also making tremendous progress up the equity ladder as 50:50 sharemilkers in the Rotorua area....Waikiti Valley. Today they are members of the "Green to Gold" dairy discussion group. Thornbury Farms now milks 500 XBred cows on 160ha thru a 44 aside Herringbone parlour. Colin & Hazel are paying off debt as fast as they can but continuing to build cow numbers to build equity & savings."Our goal is farm ownership & we want our money to work for us NOT us work for money"
This farming district can be very tough, its not the easiest dairy was very dry when we visited..... some of the land is steep....very steep by UK standards. Colin & Hazel use this block for summer milking heifers on OAD milking & then outwinter the herd on direct drilled forage crops. Fertilizer is flown on from the farm's airstrip high up at the back of the farm.
The NZ sharemilking system allows young people to enter the dairy industry sometimes with very little experience but to then progress by gaining equity. This is hard work but also requires intensive management of the farm business cashflow.

The world is a very unstable place right needs to be taken to closely manage cashflows. Sure milk prices are lifting but costs are going up even faster. In some countries there is a credit crisis that will "crash & burn dairy farmers" who dont control cashflows. Everyone needs to be very aware of the global credit risks.
Those NZ sharemilkers/farmers who can demonstrate cashflow control & savings will progress rapidly despite the global risks.
The saying goes that "If you want to fly with the Eagles then don't mess around with the Turkeys". It's important to seek out the "Eagles" & look at how they farm so successfully.
The "DAIRY OLYMPIANS" soon identify themselves as champions.