How Clean is Your Colostrum Handling Equipment?
Let's look at some data from 52 dairy farms from the Province of Ontario that were supplying bull calves for two veal calf operations. They had a range of 35 to 520 cows in the herd, 73% housed in free-stall barns. Colostrum handling equipment (nipple bottles, tube feeders and pails) were selected randomly for testing on each farm. Only 1 item in each category was checked on each farm.
They used 15ml sterile water samples to rinse the interior surfaces on each piece of equipment. Each sample was split into 2 parts - one part was send for laboratory bacterial culturing and one part was checked using luminometry.
Lab culture results - total bacteria count
<100,000cfu/ml >100,000cfu/ml >1,000,000cfu/ml
Nipple bottle (n=49) 39% 61% Of the 49, 20% over a million
Esophageal tube fdr (n=18) 28% 72% Of the 18, 44% over a million
Pail (n=6) 100% None None
That's right -the rinse samples from two out of five tube feeders had total bacteria counts over 1,000,000cfu/ml.
One out of five nipple bottles had rinse sample total bacteria counts over 1,000,000cfu/ml.
What are the chances that one or more pieces of your colostrum handling equipment is as contaminated as those on these farms?
If you are still interested, similar lab culture results for coliform bacteria were
<10,000cfu/ml >10,000cfu/ml >50,000cfu/ml
Nipple bottle (n=49) 80% 20% Of the 49, 8% over 50,000
Esophageal tube fdr (n=18) 83% 17% Of the 18, 17% over 50,000
Pail (n=6) 67% 33% 33%
Reference: Renaud, D. L. and Others, "Validation of commercial luminometry swabs for total bacteria and coliform counts in colostrum-feeding equipment." Journal of Dairy Science 100:9459-9465 October 2017.