Indeed, there is more than one way to skin a cat. With calf equipment, most producers think that there are a billion different ways to clean your calf bottles, nipples, esophageal feeders and the like. In my farm visits, variations of on farm cleaning protocols are as numerous as the calves in the barn. However, I would say that for cleaning, there is research that says there isn’t very many different ways to do it to actually get consistently clean equipment every time.

Below I’ve outlined a few of the key points to cleaning calf equipment:

  • Most disinfectants do not work in the presence of organic matter. This means that if there’s saliva, biofilms, manure, or soil in the environment where you are cleaning, your disinfectant isn’t going to work. Therefore, you must remove the organic matter with a detergent prior to disinfection.
  • Rinsing equipment with ultra hot water actually hinders more than it helps. When very hot water is used to rinse equipment, it encourages proteins and fats to bind to plastic and other materials, further encouraging biofilm to be created. Water should be 90 degrees or lower at your first rinse before you wash with detergent.
  • Auto calf feeders need extra attention. If you have calves on an auto-feeder, it is not as hands off as it may seem. Nipples should be removed, cleaned, sanitized, and replaced with a clean nipple daily. Another place where bacteria continue to harbor in these machines is in the hoses. These should be replaced and washed similar to nipples daily.
  • Bleach is not enough. Bleach is actually one of the poorest disinfectants out there because it does nothing for biofilms and also is easily deactivated by organic matter. Additionally, bleach does not even touch crypto and other protozoa.

If you would like to up the ante on your calf program or would like further help with your cleaning protocols, don’t hesitate to call us at 507-343-0386.

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