There was an old Saturday Night Live skit that stated “you can’t put too much water in a nuclear reactor.” The people in the skit argued as to if that meant you can’t actually get to a point where the water level is too high or if it meant that getting it too high would cause a failure.
On many parlors today we have reached a point of you can’t use too much water. The dilemma has reached such proportions that some have chosen to just shut it off entirely to prevent problems caused by wet and dirty conditions. As with most problem solving let’s start back at the fundamentals.
1. Cows carry manure into the parlor on their feet
2. Cows can defecate in the parlor adding more manure to the parlor
3. Manure can carry bacteria
4. Removing bacteria from the surfaces of the teat and milking equipment reduces mastitis risk
5. Water does not kill bacteria
6. More water doesn’t kill any more bacteria
7. The discovery of biofilms on surfaces in the parlor and milking system would suggest that chemicals or scrubbing are needed to remove bacteria on surfaces
So at the fundamentals why are we using water to clean the parlor? Simply because the parlor is cleaner to the eye when water is used, and using water is easier and faster than cleaning by any other means. So much like rinsing dishes with hot water in the sink leaves a clean looking dish; I would prefer that my restaurant uses some soap somewhere along the way. I propose the real issue isn’t water use that is the issue, the real issue is water alone doesn’t kill bacteria; if it did we could save a lot of money using it as a teat dip tomorrow.
Just like every bathroom has to post a sign urging everyone to wash their hands with water and SOAP before returning to work, every parlor needs to be cleaned with water and something to reduce bacteria and the risks associated with it. Simple systems are available to add chemical into the parlor drop hoses to assist in reduction of bacteria when used, an array of chemicals have been used with success to not only help clean and reduce the water needed, but to provide for a nearly instantaneous reduction in bacteria on the surfaces it contacts.
Water is and always will be one of the earth’s most treasured resources, proper use can provide endless benefits. Make sure this precious resource is used to maximum benefit in the milking center and all around the dairy.