Water Usage Tips
Water efficient dairy sheds can use as little as 20% of the water used in the average dairy. A key reason for this efficiency is the re-use of dairy water for yard wash. This also reduces the overloading of effluent ponds with extra water.
Tips for reducing the amount of water used to clean dairy yards and sheds:
- Sweep or scrape floors and yards before washing down to greatly reduce the amount of water needed;
- Periodic automatic flushing of the yards during milking will make the clean-up quicker and easier. Dampening down the yard as the cows move through it will reduce the water needed to clean it afterwards:
- Overhead sprinklers, garden sprinklers or automatic sprays ensure that the yard remains damp enough for easy washing;
- Poly pipe, with holes to let the water dribble out, which is placed at the top of the yard slope keeps the surface wet without wetting the cows;
- Minimising the time animals spend standing in the yard reduces the amount of manure that needs to be cleaned up;
- In general, high-volume, low-pressure systems are better at moving manure;
- Use recycled water for yard wash:
- Diverting plate cooler water into wash down tanks for yard cleaning;
- Installing a treatment storage pond will enable water to be recycled for yard washing or irrigation;
- Installing appropriate flood wash tanks to suit the yard washing requirement and positioned strategically to optimise performance.
Tips for reducing the amount of water used during milking:
- Repair and replace broken nozzles or leaking hoses;
- Equip hoses with spring-loaded nozzles that have to be held open;
- Strategically wash dirty udders and teats;
- Rinse small equipment in a sink or bucket to save running water;
- In rotary sheds, turn off cup and platform sprays immediately after cows have left the platform and reduce unnecessary water volumes. These two components contribute nearly 40% of total daily water use;
- Use high volumes of water at low pressure in the dairy - too much pressure splatters manure everywhere.
- Avoid overuse of hot and cold rinsing volumes;
- Recycling detergent wash water saves on detergent and energy costs for heating water. Some water and additional chemical is added as needed.
- Catching the final hot water rinse and using as the first rinse of the next milking saves water and energy use.
Opportunities to save water when using a plate cooler are:
- Set up a system to recycle plate cooler water through a storage tank;
- Capture pre-cooler water for reuse for yard washing or irrigation;
- Ensure plate cooler is not over-using water - you need about three litres of water for every litre of milk;
- Consider collecting water from the roof of the dairy so plate cooler water can be supplied from rainwater tanks;
- Turn off water supply to plate cooler immediately after cows have left the platform.
Water Quality and Recycled Water
It should be noted that recycling water can increase concentrations of nutrients and farm chemicals. You should monitor recycled water quality to ensure that it is fit for the intended use.