Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Start Right When Feeding Colostrum

I happened to be in the utility room when a worker came in to check the temperature of colostrum. A heifer calf had just been born. He was going to feed her the routine four quarts of colostrum. Thus, two two-quart nursing bottles were heating up in a bucket of warm water. 

On this dairy the colostrum is administered with an esophageal tube feeder. He reached up and took the tube feeder from a hook on the wall. After filling the tube feeder with the contents on one bottle he went off to feed the calf. He took the second bottle with him - I watched as he poured the contents of this bottle into the top of the tube feeder as it emptied - very smooth operation.

A problem that was not at first apparent? Tube feeder cleanliness!

The farm protocol directs each person using the tube feeder to follow a four-step cleaning process each time it is used - (1) prewash rinse (2) wash using chlorinated detergent and brushing (3) acid rinse (4) hang up to dry. By my observation the last person using the tube feeder at best rinsed it out and hung it up to drain.

In a perfect world the last person using the equipment would have followed the cleaning protocol. In this imperfect world the not-so-clean tube feeder was just filled with colostrum and the calf fed. 

Compromise? It seemed clear to me that this worker did not have time to stop and wash the tube feeder before feeding colostrum. But, a quick pre-use sanitizing rinse would have started this process right.

(1) Fill tube feeder with hot water.
(2) Add roughly a tablespoon of household bleach.
(3) Tip and turn the bag to expose all the surfaces to the hot bleach solution.
(4) Drain out through the esophageal tube.

This is a workable compromise. Not good, but better than nothing. 

Just a note on water temperature. Recall that the sanitizing process depends on exposure time, concentration of the sanitizer and solution temperature. If the pre-use sanitizing must be done quickly (for example, 15 seconds) increase the amount of bleach used and increase the water temperature. By increasing water temperature from about 100F to 140F the time needed for bacteria kill drops to approximately one-quarter.

Reference: oregonstate.edu/dept/larc/sites/default/files/pdf/chlorine-fact-sheet.pdf  accessed 6/20/14.

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