Use a Brush!
It is a simple fact that brushing a surface helps clean it better - especially equipment used to feed milk and colostrum to young calves.
However, some persons seem to have an allergy to brushes or brushing. At one time I thought that this allergy was specifically concentrated in teenage boys. I had a devil of a time getting them to brush the inside of nursing bottles.
More recently I have run across more than one client where the esophageal tube feeder has been alive with bacteria. The bottle or bag was quite clean. However, when checking the end of the feeding tube (you know, the end with ball on it) the results were quite the opposite.
We use a luminometer to check cleanliness (see paragraph below).
The ball-end tube feeder readings on one dairy were (monthly):
12, 36, 4837, 12, and 995
What was going on here?
Not the same person does this job from month to month. Can you pick out the months where there was a change in the person responsible for cleaning colostrum feeding equipment?
There is a cleaning protocol posted in front of the sink where the cleaning is done - there is a brush at the sink - it is a matter of getting the hand in contact with the brush.
We went from 4837 to 12 after the worker was retrained and "encouraged" to follow the protocol. We went back up to 995 when there was yet another change in workers - back to retraining.
Even when the same person does the cleaning for a long period of time there can be "protocol drift" during which the cleaning standards are compromised, short cuts added and things just "slide."
So, check to be sure the brushes needed to clean calf equipment are present and in good shape and encourage everyone to use them. Have more healthy calves.
Luminomter: Hygiena SystemSure Plus unit does adenosine triphosphate (ATP) monitoring. The ATP test is a process of rapidly measuring actively growing microorganisms through the detection of adenosine triphosphate. An ATP monitoring system can detect the amount of microbial contamination that remains after cleaning a surface (for example, calf feeding equipment).
Thresholds used in the food processing industry are less than10 RLU for direct food contact surfaces and less than 50 RLU for environmental surfaces. I have been using a reading of 100 RLU as realistic on-farm upper threshold for calf feeding equipment