Most dairies do a good job of proper animal health product storage; that is, they put items that should be refrigerated in a refrigerator.

But, how often does anyone check to see if the refrigerator on your farm is actually working properly? Research from the University of Arkansas shows that only 27 percent of refrigerators on farms, in retail stores and veterinary clinics reliably kept temperatures between the recommended level of 35 to 45 degrees F. More than seven out of 10 units were not keeping the proper temperatures.

Don’t let this happen to you. Use this checklist from Dan Buskirk, Michigan State University animal science associate professor, to make sure your unit is working as it should:

  • Maintain adequate air flow around the unit. For example, make sure that there are at least 4 inches between the back of the refrigerator and the wall.
  • Post a “Do not unplug” sign next to the unit’s electrical outlet.
  • Keep the front grill, motor and condenser coils clean.
  • Check door gaskets regularly to ensure a tight seal.
  • Place a thermometer inside the unit to monitor temperature; the unit should maintain a steady temperature of 35 to 45 degrees F.
  • Do not put food or drinks for human consumption in the refrigerator.
  • Place products inside the unit, not in the door.
  • Store ice packs in the freezer and large jugs of water in the refrigerator along with animal health products to help maintain a stable temperature.

Consider purchasing a temperature alarm system, especially if the value of the products in your refrigerator is $500 or more, suggests Sam Leadley, calf-care expert at Attica (N.Y.) Veterinary Associates.