SHOREVIEW, Minn. — Navel dipped? Check. Colostrum fed?
Hut or pen cleaned between calves and feeding equipment
sanitized between feedings? Check. And check.
Calf raisers take many steps to prevent their calves from
getting sick. But despite taking these preventative measures, one of the first
frustrations heard when doing a walkthrough of calf facilities is that calves
still are getting scours between seven to 10 days of age.
This is according to Devin Hyde, a calf and heifer
specialist for Purina Animal Nutrition located in Minnesota.
Having sick calves despite having taken all of the proper
actions to support calf health can be one of the most discouraging challenges
that calf raisers must overcome, she said.
Hyde notes that it is not uncommon for calf raisers to
overlook their calf facility cleaning and sanitation protocols, which are a
vital part on any dairy.
The incidence of scours typically is caused by a bacterial
overload on the feeding equipment or the environment. Calf raisers should
address their equipment sanitizing protocols to limit bacterial exposure as much
Skipping these steps can allow disease and illness to
quickly spread from calf to calf, negatively affecting the overall health and
profitability of the herd.
Hyde recommends calf audits be done frequently to evaluate
what the cleaning procedures are and what type of disinfectant is being used.
She urges calf raisers to use these six easy steps developed
by Don Sockett of the University of Wisconsin Veterinary Diagnostics Lab to make
sure they are getting the job done:
* Rinse using warm, 90-degree water;
* Soak in hot water, greater than 130 degrees, with 1 percent chlorinated
* Wash water should be greater than 145 degrees — using a brush will help
eliminate any other residue;
* Rinse using a coldwater solution that contains 50 parts per million of
* Dry by letting the equipment drain and dry completely before reuse to
prevent the growth of bacteria; and
* Final preparation of equipment should include spraying the inside and
outside of calf equipment with a 50 parts per million chlorine dioxide solution
two or less hours before the next use.
Hyde also emphasizes that cleaning shouldn’t stop with milk
feeding equipment. Calf starter and water buckets also should be cleaned on a
Milk bottles and buckets should be cleaned daily, while calf
starter and water buckets should be cleaned and disinfected between calves, at a
Milking parlor managers focus on similar sanitation
practices every single day, multiple times per day. As calves are the future of
dairy herds, the same mentality should be in place for calf facilities.
Doing so, can help overcome calf health challenges and allow
producers to focus on keeping calves healthy and growing so that they can reach
their full potential.
For more information, contact Hyde at (507) 226-5126 or