This time of year is always a panicked one on dairy farms, where new parlours are being constructed.

Most milking machine suppliers and fitters operate on a tight schedule, and a delay in one installation can seriously disrupt the plans for other machine installations.

Tensions are heightened currently with the surge in COVID-19 case numbers. Some farmers and milking machine suppliers are worried about what an outbreak of COVID-19 could do to their employee’s health and also to their work schedule.

It’s not easy to keep your distance while installing a milking machine, but this must be attempted as much as possible, and if not, mask up. With just three weeks before cows start calving, it’s too serious to let it slide.

In this special focus on dairy equipment, we give the lowdown on a new automatic drafting gate installed in Tipperary. Using an unconventional design, these dairy farmers made a three-way drafting gate work for them.

We take a look at heat recovery units as a means of pre-heating water. These units take the energy that is otherwise lost when cooling milk and use it to heat water to 45-55°C.

This greatly reduces the cost of heating water, but heat recovery units themselves come at a significant cost.

Also, the process of painting milking parlours is outlined in detail this week. This is a job that is both aesthetically pleasing and important for hygiene, as the paint can prevent the growth of green algae and makes it easier to keep walls clean.

We take a look at a new device for ensuring the temperature in milking parlour wash solutions is high enough. Designed by a Cork-based company, this inline water heater should be a great help in the fight to reduce TBC levels without using chlorine.