Bigger herds coupled with modern genetics, higher production and faster milking speeds are putting more pressure on one of the least costly, yet critical parts of New Zealand dairy sheds – the milk filter.
Skellerup’s National Sales Manager Mark England appreciates it might look like he’s stating the obvious by recommending dairy producers use a new filter every milking. However, he says, the implications make the point worth repeating.
“Milk filters represent the last line of defence against contamination entering the bulk milk tank. It’s the least expensive, yet most valuable, insurance every farmer can easily have,” Mark said.
Filters last line of defence
Milk filters are the mechanical filter that separates the raw milk from any solid particles before they reach the bulk milk tank. And, if milk filters are pushed to their breaking point, they expose the bulk milk tank to sediments, contaminants, and potential payment penalties.
Capturing that sediment before cooling, also stops it from clogging the plate cooler and limiting or compromising the surface area available for heat exchange.
Plate cooler dynamite to pull apart
If a milk filter does fail and overload bypass milk happens, it ends up in the second-best filter in the dairy shed – the plate cooler. And, because it has super-fine plate clearances, that contamination point affects flow, cooling, and takes hours to pull apart, strip, and clean.
“Winter is possibly the most challenging time milk filters face in the year because there is more mud and other contaminants,” Mark said. “When you consider that a milk filter costs arguably $1 per milking, why would you risk it?”
Size does matter
An ongoing conversation in New Zealand centres around making sure the size of the milk filter remains appropriate for the dairy shed and the number of cows. Mark says where farms have experienced rapid growth in cow numbers, farmers should check their milk filter sizes are keeping up.
Filters are required to be sized at a minimum of 6.0 cm²/cow effective filtering area. Full compliance is assessed to within 95% (or 5.7 to 6.0 cm²/cow).
Skellerup’s milk filters are manufactured in New Zealand for New Zealand conditions with detailed attention paid to their high wet-strength, even pore size and distribution, strong seams and dimensional stability.
New filter for wash-down
Mark also recommends that dairy farmers consider using a filter dedicated solely to their wash-down regime. “If your filter blows-through in the cleaning cycle and you’ve put a new filter in, there’s really no impact other than the wash cycle getting into the plate cooler. The Return on Investment when you consider what the filter is protecting you against would be worth it for me.
“Milk filters are not designed to be re-usable, and even after careful washing their performance could be compromised, to the point where they can burst.
“That’s why the industry’s best practice is to fit a new milk filter before every milking and, ideally before the wash cycle.”
To find the correct filter for your dairy farm contact your local Skellerup Area Manager or refer to your NZCP1 Code of Practice.