Standards of hygiene and level of care and attention in many milking parlours and dairies is “shocking”, according to Teagasc milk quality researcher David Gleeson.

David was speaking at the Milk Quality Ireland seminar in Cork on Tuesday where he outlined how he has visited 60 dairy farms in the last few weeks, all of which had issues, even those with good milk quality results.

From things as basic as not having hot water, running out of detergent, suck-up hose pipes not reaching the bottom of containers, not using acid descaler, not having enough water to wash the plant, etc.

The most common problem of all, he says, is not using the correct amount of detergent in the wash cycles.

“Most farmers don’t adjust the amount of product being used between a hot and a cold wash cycle. Even most of the automatic wash systems that I have come across don’t adjust this either, including those on research farms.

“This has to be programmed into it by the operator. Hot wash will require 0.5% to 0.7% concentration whereas cold wash needs 1%. It’s clearly written on the label but it’s not acted upon,” David says.

He says that most farmers use cold water circulation as they think it’s cheaper but he says that when they factor in the extra amount of product that they need to use there may not be much in it.

“Many farmers went from using chlorine-based detergents to chlorine-free detergents without altering the settings on automatic machines or how much they put into the wash trough.

“The amount of caustic in these products is much higher than chlorine-based products so they are much slower to suck up, meaning in most cases the machine is not getting enough product. It’s simple things that are causing most problems,” he says.

David said that the first place to look at where a problem has been identified is the claw piece as this is where scum will accumulate where the wash routine is inadequate.