Monday, 28 March 2011

Square Barrel Liners....should we be using them?

On our recent visit to New Zealand we noticed a high proportion of the dairy farms we visited were using the Skellerup "Square Barrel Liners"(SBL). Farmers told us that there was less cup slip & better teat end health. Many told us that BMCCs had fallen especially with heifers. The OAD milking herds seemed to have moved to the SBL too.

Skellerup the main supplier of liners in NZ say that the SBLs are now the biggest selling milking liner in NZ. Milfos International Ltd another NZ Milking supply company are about to produce their own SBL.

Jamie Mikkelson from Milfos told me that their inhouse trials showed lower teat irritation, cleaner milking, cleaner take off with ACRs & lower SCC. Very encouraging.

Square Barrel Liners are not new, they have been tried in the USA & other countries. A paper by Ynte et al from Cornell University reported less hyperkeratosis (roughness) on the teats & differences in yield & milkflow. Note this was with the SBL made in the USA (which is not the same as the NZ liner).

In Germany they have compared the traditional round liner with triangular liners(Not SBL). Hartmut Grimm wrote to me....

The first question should be: are any reliable results from any experiments available? In Germany we got some results about three shaped liners: stripping yield was higher with three shaped liners (600g versus 400g) and MOT was longer (490s versus 386s). Data are available only from DeLaval experiments. Another result (Vet. Doctor thesis Hannover/Germany) showed no differences between triangular and standard liners: ""liner shape did not affect significantly the milking and teat condition parameters of a reference group of quarters secreting normally throughout the entire trial. With triangular liners, another attempt was made to improve the technical milking conditions for cows. Yet and in comparison to conventional liners, milking pattern, teat skin condition and udder health were neither improved nor deteriorated by using triangular liners. The results of this study show however that special attention must be paid on correct handling and regular replacement of liners."" Rudovsky(2009) and Mein and Reineman (2009) found worse teat conditions with 3-shaped liners.

Mel Eden a highly respected NZ Milking Adviser said.....

"They slip less than other similar liners - presumably because the mouthpiece cavity vacuum is higher because of the narrow [permanent] pathway for air/vacuum to pass down to the claw from the mouthpiece. They milk out well, have a shallow mouthpiece cavity and a relatively soft mouthpiece that should collapse down during milking to reduce the swelling of the teat into the mouthpiece. This sounds as I am in high praise! They do work well but there are other liners that do a good job too so, when in doubt, we suggest trying them side by side with the farmer's current liner looking for clean, reasonably fast milkout with teats that look as if they have been massaged. [Red or blue teats showing poor massage]. The other 'fault' with liners, slip can be compared liner to liner by pulling down on the [front] teats - holding the claw securely with the other hand - about 10 seconds after cluster application."

Mel would advise different liners on the Front Teats (if there is Cup Slip)

"If farmers are having slipping problems they are definitely worth trying. And yes because front teats are generally narrower than hind teats, liners are more likely to slip. The Vacupulse liner could well solve the problem although other liners could do the same. And there could be other reasons for the slip. We continue to recommend a liner to solve a problem and often they would be different front and back. Not many people recommend the same as they think farmers would find the liners designated for 'front' or 'back' far too confusing. Naturally I disagree. If there is a slip problem and the hind quarters appear to getting milked out cleanly and quickly, I would definitely concentrate only on the front teats"

Which Milking Cup shells are suitable for use with SBLs.

Darold Klindworth from the Australian Milking Research Unit "Cow Time" said there is a real problem getting good research data on Milking Liners "Bottom line the only ones testing them are the guys selling them."

Much of the original Milking Liner Research has been done by Dr Graeme Mein.

The recommendation to change liners every 2500 milkings came from work Graeme did both in Australia & the USA. This is seriously important if you want a low BMCC & low incidence of Mastitis.

Getting research data on Milking Liners today is near impossible. This is a problem as there are alot of different liners on the are farmers to tell??????

Worse still how do farmers actually make a good decision about which Milking Liners to use.

Very good Question but who has the answer?????

On our visit to NZ farmers were keen to recommend the Skellerup NZ Square Barrel Liners. Mel Eden's suggestion of different liners front & back may help people who are having problems with cup slip. Organic farmers may find this a part solution to BMCCs.


One of the very impressive dairy farms where we saw the Square Barrel Liners being used was at the Rakaia Island Farm near Ashburton. This amazing farm is approx 14.5km long & 3-4km wide.

They milk over 6000 Xbred NZ bred dairy cows on Once a Day milking (OAD). Dave Turner said they were very impressed with the new Skellerup liners.


  1. Tom, I have been using square liners for 2 and a half seasons now,I highly recomend this product for sheds with low vac reserve or long milk line so as to lower the operating vac level, teat condition has improved , the product seems to have good durability
    James in NZ

  2. Interesting blog Tom,
    Do you know if these square liners are available in UK?
    Also like to question the importance of freeze branding. I feel it is a luxury that most dairy farmers use if they are getting paid too much for their milk or if they insist on keeping records that they probably never make use of! In 4 trips to NZ over 15 years I still have yet to see a freeze branded cow over there. We have to have ear tags by law so why not just use the tag No. for ID?
    Mat Boley

    1. because freeze brands don't fall out.

  3. Grant Wisnewski1 August 2012 at 04:26

    If anybody wants a free set of square liners to trial in their parlour, please email me at Include your address and what brand of cluster you have now. We will post a set out for you to try. Over 80% of farmers that have trialed these liners so far have purchased them for their parlour.
    Yes these liners are avialbe in the UK and Australia.