From Tubes to Tugs: Farms Give New Life to Old Milking Tubes

02:17PM Jul 07, 2014
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A Minnesota couple has found a way to get more life--and money--out of discarded tubes.

By Steph Weber, contributing writer

Milking tubes, aka inflations. Such an integral part of a dairy farm’s daily life. But since farmers may have to replace them as often as every three weeks, that can produce a significant amount of environmental waste.

What if there was a way to get even more life, and possibly money, out of a discarded tube?

Well, Dan and Cristen Breuer have figured out a way. Cristen was raised on a dairy farm and the couple shares an innate love of animals, so the creation of a new dog toy made from old milking tubes seemed natural.

"It didn't happen overnight, [but it] took several months of making prototypes and testing them out on my dogs," said Cristen. "We finally found a design that both looked good and played tug of war well with my bulldog, Moose."

And Mootugs was officially born.

In operation since 2012, the Breuers collect the tubes from dairy farmers around the nation. Depending on the arrangement, some farmers donate their tubes while others receive reimbursement for their contributions.

The tubes then go through an extensive sanitation process before being crafted into the upcycled pull toy.

And both animals and farmers are benefitting from the end product.

With 25% of each sale earmarked for various animal rescue organizations, the Breuers have donated nearly $10,000 to date. Plus, they’ve given countless Mootugs to groups and individuals for use as raffle prizes and auction merchandise.

Farmers are reaping the rewards as well. "We have been helping Mootugs collect used inflations for about a year now," said Sadie Frericks of Blue Diamond Dairy, located in Melrose, Minn. "It has reduced our farm's impact on the environment – our used inflations are upcycled into toys, instead of ending up in the trash."

Frericks believes other farmers will be excited about the concept as news spreads. "We are always looking for ways to make our farm more environmentally-friendly," she says. "I believe other farmers share that goal. I would certainly encourage other farmers to consider alternate uses for used equipment and supplies."

To find out more about Mootugs and how you can become involved, please visit their website.

Steph Weber is a freelance writer hailing from the Midwest. She spends her days writing about healthcare, finance, and small business, all while gazing at fields of corn and beans.