June 2020 Monthly Management

Chlorine-Free Cleaning of Milking Machines; Protected Urea; Grass & Grazing

22 June 2020

Chlorine-Free Cleaning of Milking Machines

Due to rising standards and market demands, it is increasingly difficult to achieve final product specification when chlorine-based detergents are used in the cleaning of processing, manufacturing and dairy farm milking equipment.

Consequently, from January 2021, it will be mandatory to have non chlorine-based cleaning protocols in place in order to reduce the levels of trichloromethanes (TCMs) and chlorates found in dairy products.

Current chlorine detergents have two modes of action for cleaning, these are caustic and chlorine. When the chlorine portion is removed there is just the caustic portion of the detergent remaining.

To compensate for the removal of the chlorine from the detergent the three main components of alternate non-chlorine cleaning protocols will involve the use of various combinations of caustic detergents, acids (peracetic & descaler) and hot water.

Caustic Detergents

Available in two forms; powder or liquid.

CF Caustic Powder CF Caustic liquid
Suited to manual washing systems Suited to automatic wash systems
Ideal for small/ medium plants 5-15 units Suited to larger / more complex machines
High caustic percentage Lower caustic percentage (21-29%)
Can be reused once No recycling of solution
Can be used cold Hot wash daily

Drinagh stock three chlorine-free (CF) caustic liquid detergents and three CF caustic detergent powders. The CF liquids in stock are:

  1. Avalkasan CF
  2. Multisan CF
  3. AseptoActive Liquid (formerly Hydrosan)

The CF detergent powders are:

  1. Circodine CF
  2. AseptoPowder (formerly Hydrosan Powder)
  3. Jetster

Acids (Peracetic & Descaler)

Peracetic acid has similar antimicrobial properties to chlorine and is effective against a broad spectrum of organisms including bacteria spores, yeasts, moulds and viruses. Peracetic acid should only be used in the second half of the final rinse. It is essential that the caustic detergent solution is thoroughly rinsed from the plant before the peracetic acid is added to the rinse.

This is for two reasons:

  1. Safety concerns
  2. The caustic detergent solution will neutralize the acid solution making it less effective

Where peracetic acid is used twice daily, the required frequency of acid descale washing may be reduced to once per week.


Hot Water

Having an adequate supply of hot water will make the change over to chlorine-free easier. Hot water should start at 70-75 degrees and should be taken back out of the machine once it reaches 40 degrees (usually after approx. 8-10 mins). Each unit requires 9 litres of hot water when washing (i.e. a 6-unit machine requires 54 litres of hot water). Leaving the solution circulating for too long will reduce the benefits of the hot wash. With non-chlorine liquid-based cleaning routines (as opposed to powder products), the use of daily hot washing is essential.

In Drinagh we are testing for TCMs monthly and each supplier will receive their TCM results each month via text or on their MilkedIn App from July 1st onwards. Moving to chlorine free requires a specific wash routine for each farm – to discuss further contact Darren or Tim.

Protected Urea

The two main sources of nitrogen fertiliser (N) used on Irish farms are CAN & Urea. Due to possible N losses as either nitrous oxide from CAN or ammonia from urea under poor soil/weather conditions that promote N loss, an alternative option must be considered.

Protected Urea contains specific urease inhibitors that can reduce these losses, improving nitrogen use efficiency (NUE) on farm, whilst reducing ammonia emissions into the atmosphere.

Urea in its primary form is not readily plant available and first needs to be converted into ammonium. This process is brought about by organisms in the soil called urease enzymes that bind to the urea under suitable conditions. However, without sufficient rainfall post application, the ammonium concentration around the urea granule increases, leading to a localized increase in soil pH. This converts the ammonium to ammonia gas, and this is lost to the atmosphere.

Urease inhibitors in protected urea temporarily bind to these enzymes, preventing the localised pH spike and reducing the losses of ammonia until suitable conditions prevail i.e. rainfall.

Protected Urea vs CAN

Questions are often asked about the performance of protected urea compared to CAN, as the latter is considered the most reliable source of nitrogen for securing high yields. However, Teagasc trials have shown that protected urea gives the equivalent yield to CAN on Irish grassland and is better value per unit of nitrogen, offering an economic advantage, as well as an environmental one.

Figure 1. Summary of total annual grass dry matter yield (kg/ha) for CAN and protected urea evaluated across two growing seasons (two years) on three soils (locations)

Going forward, fertiliser programmes incorporating protected urea instead of CAN offers both environmental (reduces GHG’s & Ammonia losses) & economic benefits.

Protected Urea Fertilser Options

The most common protected urea fertiliser products available in Drinagh for 2020 include:

  • 46% N
  • 38% N + 7% Sulphur
  • 29% N + 14 units K

On-farm feedback has been highly positive, with several users observing performance equal to CAN. Contact Drinagh sale representatives or agri. advisors for further information and recommendations on protected urea products.

Grass & Grazing

Grass and Grazing is a new section of the management notes where the grazing situation from a different Drinagh milk producer will be profiled each month.

Gearoid Murphy
This month’s feature is from Gearoid Murphy, Rea, Skibbereen.
Date 16/06/2020
Average farm cover 524 kg DM/ha
Yield (litres/cow) 24.65
Fat% 3.81%
Protein % 3.55%
Kgs Milk Solids / cow 1.87
Supplement fed(kg/cow) 4kg
Pre-grazing covers 1100
Days grass ahead 13 days

Average farm cover this week is 524 kg/DM/ha. Growth was 55 last week. I have set demand to 40 for the coming week to try and raise the average farm cover in hope that a little more green cover will hold any moisture that we get and also to shade the ground. To date, 90% of the grazing platform paddocks have been baled/topped. The remaining paddocks have a higher growth rate, but quality is poorer on these. The milking cow diet at the moment is 10kg grass, 4 kg concentrate and 6 kg good quality silage (78DMD tested 15/06/20).

All cows have been submitted, repeats have been quiet. Cows are being followed with 18 units 29-0-14 + S.