With severe frost promised this weekend, freezing weather conditions can affect farming in several ways.

The problem of freezing of milking machines and other equipment in milking parlours can be two of the problems dairy farmers face.

The Departement of Defence’s ‘Be Winter Ready’ booklet has some good advice on how to reduce the risk of ice forming in milking machines.

Make sure that all doors into the parlour are kept closed during times of freezing weather.

It advises to close off the entrance to the parlour with plastic sheeting or insulating blanket to reduce the amount of freezing air getting in and to keep as much heat as possible inside.

Milking cows must have access to drinking water at all times. A cow producing 30L of milk and being fed a silage- based diet requires 75-90L of water per day.

The booklet has the following tips on preventing milking equipment freezing over the winter months:

  • Install a thermostatically-controlled heater in the plant room which should cut in when the temperature falls to 10C.
  • Items such as the power washer should be kept in the plant room to prevent the pump from freezing.
  • Let the machine run a little bit longer to ensure that all excess water is removed from the plant after the final rinse.
  • Open the machine at the low points, particularly at the fitter sock. Some machines may also have a drain at the base of the receiver jar.
  • Remove the jetters from the claw pieces and let them hang down.
  • Circulate a saline solution through the milking machine, having first made sure that all the detergent has been rinsed out of the plant.
  • The saline (salt) solution is made by mixing half a kg of salt in 5 gallons of water. Salt will drop the freezing point of water.
  • Rinse before milking to remove salt traces. If the rinse is inclined to freeze, start milking without rinsing and let the first few gallons go to waste or feed to calves.
  • Diaphragm milk pumps can also cause problems. Open the locking nuts to allow any excess water to escape or alternatively place an infra-red light over it.
  • Longer-term solution: Install a line of infra-red lights above the milk and wash lines. All wiring should be done by a certified electrician.