Thursday, April 23, 2015

How to Make a Bad Situation Worse:
Dirty Calf Pails After Washing!

During a recent farm visit I took the opportunity to check out the pails they have washed. All the 10-quart plastic pails (buckets) are washed before going to the hutch for a newborn calf. 

I have recently been using the Hygiena SystemSure Plus unit to do 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 organic matter 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. For reference, on this same farm the inside surface of a grain feeding pail for a 3 week-old calf tested at 354 RLU; same pail 8 week-old calf = 366 RLU.

Now, back to the "clean" pails.

We tested the top pail in a stack of 15 "clean" pails. It was dry. The RLU value was 2925. Lots of remaining organic matter post-washing. 

We tested the bottom pail in the same stack of "clean" pails. RLU value was 5776. Ah. Stacking pails after washing appears to be an effective way to increase bacteria presence.

Thus, not only does the dairy need to do a better job of cleaning their pails but also needs to work out some way to set the pails upside down separately so they can drain and dry.

The recommended protocol for washing is found HERE.

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