Wednesday, July 23, 2014

You Would Not Eat Off of This Plate

At our house my wife and I wash our plates after each use. On one hand, our sanitation standards are not necessarily those to be used for calf feeding equipment. On the other hand, the use of effective sanitation practices for calf feeding equipment has been shown to be related to the need for treatments for diarrhea among calves.

As a dairy consultant working primarily in North America it is easy to fall into the trap of thinking that all the problems of calf rearing are exclusive to "us." In a recent article (D. Klein-Jobsti and others, "Farm characteristics and calf management practices on dairy farms with and without diarrhea: a case-control study to investigate risk factors for calf diarrhea" Journal of Dairy Science, August 2014 pp 5110-5119) two aspects of cleanliness were investigated in Austria.

One aspect was cleanliness of the calving area. Dairies with a separate place for calving that was kept clean had significantly fewer calves with diarrhea (scours) than those that had practices that allowed significant contact for newborn calves with dirty conditions. 

Another aspect of cleanliness was cleaning of calf feeding equipment. One one hand I was very interested to find that the problems these investigators found in Austria were the same as the ones I find regularly in North America.
  • Failure to wash feeding equipment after every use.
  • Frequent "washing" by simply rinsing with water.
On these farms a small number of buckets were used to feed milk to all the calves - that is, buckets were shared from one calf to another. Then, they were just rinsed with water on 7 out of 10 farms. I was puzzled that the scours rate among calves was not related to lack of feeding equipment sanitation the 100 farms they studied - maybe all the other farm conditions were more significant causes of diarrhea?

On the other hand, just because lax sanitation practices are common does not mean that they are desirable.

Just to remind readers, you can check HERE for a calf feeding equipment washing protocol that is both practical and effective.

What do you think about drinking milk from this bucket?


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