Colostrum, vaccines and ramped-up nutrition only can do so much to keep calves healthy, according to Rob Farruggio, DVM. The Jefferson, Wis. veterinarian also stresses the importance of scrupulous, day-in and day-out cleaning practices for the equipment used to feed calves.

He trains his clients to use the following cleaning protocol for bottles, buckets, nipples, esophageal feeders and colostrum-collection equipment:

(1)   Rinse the equipment with warm (90-100˚F) water to remove all soils, including milk solids.

(2)   Wash with a chlorinated alkaline manual/foam cleaner (pH 11-12) and one cup of bleach by way of brush, or use soap product from dairy supply company at 135-140˚F. Dump to drain.

(3)   Rinse with warm (90-100˚F) water and dump to drain.

(4)   Hang upside down on a wall (not on the floor or stacked) to dry completely.

(5)   Prior to use, sanitize with chlorine dioxide at 50 ppm residual (2.5 oz. concentrate/gallon of water). Wait 5 minutes before using, and do not dry or rinse prior to use. Verify disinfectant concentration with high-range (0-500 ppm) test strips.

Farruggio also highly recommends sanitation audits and periodic, follow-up checks by a third party to verify that cleaning protocols are maintained over time.