Saturday, March 8, 2014

Materials for Calf Pens

I was looking up information on biofilms today and found an article published in 2002 entitled "Biosecurity for neonatal gastrointestinal diseases."
Barrington, George M., et al. "Biosecurity for neonatal gastrointestinal diseases." The Veterinary Clinics: Food Animal Practice, Vol. 18, No. 1 pp 7-34.
Authors comment on the characteristics of pen surfaces and how they influence the success or failure of various disinfection procedures. Their examples compare unfinished plywood, varnished plywood and plastic.

"Unfinished plywood retains 15-fold more microorganisms than varnished plywood, which supports 15-fold more microorganisms than plastic surfaces." p 11.

Unless I am in error, to compare the microorganism retention rate difference between unfinished plywood (very common pen construction) and plastic I multiply 15 and 15. That comes to 225 times greater microorganism retention on unfinished plywood compared to plastic.

Is it any wonder that when I see pens made of unfinished plywood I am pretty certain that environmental pathogen exposure for newborn calves has the potential to be sky high? 

Then to make "un-good" matters even worse, most unfinished plywood pens are cleaned by simply scraping off lumps of feces. In contrast many plastic or fiberglass pen surfaces are pressure washed with a high-temperature pressure washer (over 160 degrees).

Faced with selecting solid pen surfaces for young dairy calves the less porous surface should always be preferred based on pathogen control.

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