As we work through situations involving sick calves, we always talk about how calf feeding equipment is cleaned and disinfected. The two most common mistakes that I see are:
- 1. We rinse the equipment with hot water and then hang it to dry.
The mistake: They never used soap or disinfectant.
- 2. After we clean the bedding out of the pen (or hutch) we spray the walls with a bleach solution.
The mistake: They did not wash the dried manure on the walls. Disinfectants cannot penetrate manure or other organic matter.
Follow these four steps when cleaning calf feeding equipment or housing to keep them clean and prevent bacteria buildup.
- 1. Rinse with lukewarm water. If you rinse with hot water you will cook the milk proteins to the container and create a film that you cannot disinfect.
2. Wash with hot water (greater than 120 degrees F) using a chlorinated detergent or detergent plus bleach. Brush all the surfaces.
3. Rinse with a disinfectant solution (there are several good options here). Do not always use chlorine bleach as some organisms are becoming resistant to chlorine.
4. Dry upside down. Do not stack pails inside each other. Do stack them off the floor on a drying rack.
Wondering if your equipment is clean? We can swab the bottles, nipples, esophageal feeder tubes and get a total bacteria count and a total coliform count. Sometimes the results surprise us. What looks clean, may not be.