Handy as they may be, power washers do no favors for healthy calf rearing, according to Kristopher Follmer, Operations Quality Manager for Milk Products, Inc., Chilton, Wis.

“A power washer is a bacteria spreader,” said Follmer. “It merely takes bacteria off the surface of buildings and equipment and aerosolizes it.” Of particular concern is using power washers when animals are present, or when calf-feeding equipment is on the premises.

Even for dairies that may have separate wash bays for power-washing hutches, Follmer doesn’t support the practice. “Bacteria will attach to the water vapor on the walls, washing equipment, vehicles and people in that type of setting,” he said.

Instead, he suggests alternative cleaning methods for hutches, barns, gates and pens that contain and remove dirt and organic matter. These may include foaming; soaking with hot water; old-fashioned “bucket-and-brush” scrubbing; rinsing with a low-pressure water stream; and allowing thorough drying.