How Ice Water Cooling helps one farm ensure better milk quality and peace of mind
Since making the switch to robotic milking in 2019, Aston Pool Farm in Staffordshire has seen significant improvements. After changing from their previous herringbone parlour and direct expansion (DX) tank, production across their herd of 114 cows has gone up by approximately 20% – an astonishing amount.
“The cows responded instantly,” says Matt Weaver, Farm Manager. “Their overall demeanour was much more relaxed and satisfied compared to before. The cows actively want to be milked and we’re now averaging over three and a half milkings per cow each day.”
While robotic milking has provided immediate benefits, Matt highlights his new cooling solution as a crucial component of their recent success. He decided to purchase an end-to-end milking and cooling solution from Fullwood Packo, whose advanced automated milking robot, the M²erlin, became the farm’s primary milking setup. This included their unique cooling solution: Ice Water Cooling.
Ice Water Cooling
Ice Water Cooling helps speed up the cooling process using ice water. This reduces cooling times by half, allowing farmers to collect more milk while taking advantage of lower electricity rates to save on costs.
“Cooling is very rapid now,” says Matt. “The water around the bulk tank is constantly at the right temperature, so once the milk comes from the buffer vessel it cools very quickly.”
While Matt’s original priority was finding a new milking system, he invested in Ice Water Cooling as it perfectly complemented his new robotic arrangement. Although aware of the benefits, he was still astonished to find just how stark a difference Ice Water Cooling made for his farm:
“Before, in the parlour, we would start milking into an empty bulk tank and it could take half an hour to an hour – or longer – until reaching the desired temperature. Now? It’s a matter of minutes.”
One aspect that appealed to Matt was a crucial difference between Ice Water Cooling and his previous DX tank: no matter how little milk is in the tank, Ice Water Cooling guarantees absolutely no risk of freezing.
“When there is a small volume in a DX tank, cooling can’t begin,” says Matt. “Iced milk would build up if cooling is started with too small a volume of milk in a DX tank. When the milk was collected the next day, a certain volume of milk would then be lost as it would be stuck frozen to the tank. This is an important consideration with robotic milking systems, as the tank is filled more slowly than in a conventional parlour system.”
For Matt, Ice Water Cooling has several benefits. Practically, iced milk residue in a DX tank cools the wash water down during cleaning, making washing more difficult and less thorough. More importantly, the new Fullwood Packo cooling equipment helps ensure every drop of collected milk – a dairy farm’s most valuable asset – remains preserved and secure.
“We’re now in a situation where we never have ice inside the tank,” says Matt. “That means good cleaning performance and absolutely no lost volume.”
- 114 cows
- Herd consists of Holstein and Brown Swiss
- Average of 40L per cow per day
- Uses M²erlin robots and Ice Water Cooling from Fullwood Packo
Peace of mind
For many, it’s easy to view all cooling tanks as roughly similar and providing the same benefits. Surely, it’s no more than your vessel for storing milk. Matt disagrees. Ice Water Cooling has proven an invaluable and crucial component of the farm’s entire milking process.
“The advantages of robotic milking don’t end with the robot,” says Matt. “So far, we’ve registered better cell counts and lower bacteria counts. We are now milking 38 to 42 kilos per cow each day, compared to 27 to 28 kilos in the parlour. Cooling is the final stage in that process – why would we risk the product of our hard work right at the end?”
Essentially, without a cooling system you can trust, each milk collection has some degree of risk. Ice Water Cooling has helped Matt ensure that every drop of milk – and all the incremental benefits they’ve seen since upgrading their milking solution – is preserved and safeguarded.
“Knowing the system is specifically designed to avoid the most common issues found in other cooling solutions means we don’t have to worry,” adds Matt. “Our operation can run smoothly and without worry. It provides absolute peace of mind.”