Click here to view as a pdf: Providing A Clean Environment Equals Healthier Calves
By Lorrie Meister, CVT
A clean environment is essential to successful calf raising. Housing, air quality and cleanliness of the surfaces the calf comes into contact with (hutches, panels, bottles, pails, feeders, etc.) all play a role in raising a healthy, robust animal. Many producers fall into habits of using certain products, or practices, to clean and disinfect surfaces because they have never considered, or have not taken the time to look for a better alternative.
For many years, bleach has been the most commonly used disinfectant on livestock operations. While bleach is effective in some ways, it has several major downfalls. Cryptosporidium and giardia are two common pathogens that bleach will not control. A common misconception when cleaning facilities is if it looks clean, it is clean. Unfortunately, this is often not the case. Studies of bacterial loads in dairy farm environments have shown that only 10% of bacteria present is free floating. That leaves the remaining 90% of bacteria attached to surfaces or trapped in biofilms.1 Biofilms are a group of microorganisms which stick to each other and adhere to a surface. This representation of bacterial distribution proves how important the steps of sanitation (past the removal of gross debris) are in our cleaning protocols. Finding a disinfecting agent that can provide a broad spectrum of protection for your animals can be a challenge. Some agents work well in certain settings but not others. New studies have shown that chlorine dioxide is the best choice for on-farm sanitizing applications.