Despite the availability of a wide variety of detergents and sanitizers, food sanitation expert Kris Follmer says there’s no substitute for good, old-fashioned “elbow grease” to thoroughly clean and sanitize calf-feeding equipment.

Follmer is Quality Assurance Manager for Milk Products LLC, a milk-replacer manufacturer based in Chilton, Wis. He told participants in a workshop at the recent Dairy Calf and Heifer Association Annual Conference that, in addition to chemical products, mechanical action is needed keep bacteria from growing.

That’s because equipment used to feed milk-based products quickly develops a layer of “biofilm,” caused by bacteria latching onto the equipment surface and producing a filmy coating.  Follmer compares biofilm to the coating that people develop on their teeth after a day or two of not brushing. “Just as we don’t rely solely on mouth rinses to keep our teeth healthy, we need to brush equipment to remove bacteria build-up,” he explained.

He added that cleaning equipment with high-pressure spray may be easier, but this practice can aerosolize bacteria and spread it to other surfaces.

Thoroughly drying equipment also helps lower bacterial numbers after scrubbing and using a sanitizer, according to Follmer. “There are brushes of all sizes available to clean various parts of calf-feeding equipment,” he advised. “Get them, and use them.”