How clean is your calf kitchen? Check to see if your cleaning protocols stack up.

Kelli Boylen Calves, milk and bacteria: How clean is your kitchen?

Colostrum, milk and milk replacers are all excellent sources of nutrients for calves, but also for bacteria.

Jenn Bentley of Iowa State University Extension says when that abundance of nutrients is combined with moisture, you have the key elements for bacterial proliferation, which can be detrimental to your calves’ health.

“Cleanliness in the calf kitchen is something we don’t often think about, but it really can help reduce pathogen levels,” she says. “In order to start and maintain a healthy life, calves must be cared for in a way that prevents outbreaks and spread of diseases, and promotes growth and development of their digestive system.”

Bentley strongly recommends reading the labels of your cleaning products for several reasons. “There is a lot of important information on there,” she says. “And, most importantly, make sure the disinfectants you are using on your farm are effective for the pathogens that are an issue on your farm.”

For example, quaternary ammonium disinfectants (commonly referred to as “quats”) are effective on staph and strep microorganisms, but not coccidia. Ammonium hydroxide or a phenol would be best to use against coccidia, according to Dr. Danelle Bickett-Weddle, associate director of the Center for Food Security and Public Health at Iowa State University.

Many products have a minimum contact time to kill pathogens. Bentley adds that knowing the recommended safety precautions can prevent injury to the user, your animals and the environment.

Also, make sure you are using the correct amount of product for the amount of water you are using in your sink. Using too little is likely not effective, she says, and “using more than the recommended amount of product is a waste of money.”

As a basic rule, she says thorough cleaning is accomplished by initially rinsing all equipment with lukewarm water to remove as much milk residue as possible, followed by vigorous scrubbing with detergent and 120ºF water. She says hot water can “bake” residue onto the surface.
Feeding equipment should then be scrubbed for two to three minutes in water that is at least 140ºF and a detergent and/or soap with a pH of 11 to 12. Rinse once, and then rinse a second time with cold water mixed with an acid (pH of 2 to 3) and 50 parts per million (ppm) of chlorine dioxide. Allow to air dry.

Bentley says it is very important to use the correct alkaline and/or caustic soap to ensure emulsification of fats and breakdown of carbohydrates and proteins.

Different chemical agents have different and specific purposes. She explains that detergents are used to break up organic deposits such as fat and protein. Rinsing with water alone is not effective, and bacteria can lie beneath the surface created by residual fat and protein.

A disinfectant, used after the surface is cleaned with detergent, is used to kill microorganisms. “Using detergents and disinfectants is an effective combination to reduce the bacterial load and prevent the formation of biofilm,” she says.
A sanitizer can be used within two hours prior to using the equipment, and this helps reduce the number of microorganisms on a surface. “But,” Bentley says, “it is not as effective as a disinfectant. It may be used as a way to improve hygiene in the calf kitchen, but not as a substitute of good practices.”

Containers used to store or transport milk should also be rinsed in lukewarm water. Then, scrub with water hotter than 120ºF with liquid detergent and bleach, or dry, chlorinated detergent. Add acid, and rinse with warm water. Do not rinse off acid solution. (Since they do not come into contact with saliva from calves, there are fewer steps necessary.)

It’s not just cleaning the equipment that is important, removing moisture is the other key factor in shutting down bacterial reproduction. Bentley says this is easy to achieve by simply allowing feeding equipment to dry thoroughly, such as by placing them upside down in a drying rack individually to allow complete air circulation for surfaces to dry completely between use. Allow to air dry, and do not stack pails or place upside down on concrete floor.

Look at the surfaces of feeding equipment when it is wet – from buckets to whisks and nipples to bottles. Bentley says if there is any beading of the water, that is a sign a biofilm has built up on the surfaces. She says this is common when feeding equipment is only rinsed with water or a strong enough detergent has not been used. This biofilm, consisting of a matrix of protein, sugars and fat, strongly adheres to surfaces and will take physical and chemical cleaning practices to remove.

“Even though surfaces may appear clean to the naked eye, there may be bacteria actively growing and thriving on minuscule amounts of residue caused by improper cleaning,” Bentley says. She says there are two common ways to evaluate cleanliness of surfaces – one of which is using a protein swab and the other is through bioluminescence.

Both of these methods are widely used in human food processing facilities to monitor the effectiveness of their surfaces and equipment sanitation procedures and prevent the spread of pathogenic bacteria.

“A calf kitchen is also a food processing facility, therefore, both techniques can be easily applied at the farm level,” she says.

Disinfectant Product Label

The Antimicrobial Spectrum of Disinfectants

Characteristics of Selected Disinfectants



A Hat Tip to Our Cattle Farmers During Beef Month

May Is Beef Month!

Breeding Soundness Exams: Insurance for Bulls

Wyatt Bechtel

Spring calving has started or is wrapping up around much of the country and it is nearly time to turn bulls out to breed for the next calf crop. Just as important as having a bull with good genetics, is to make sure he can actually perform his job when covering a cowherd or group of heifers. Breeding soundness exams are a vital way to ensure bulls will be fertile and physically sound…

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Spring 2019 Edition – Countryside Compass

The Spring 2019 issue of the Countryside Compass is now available online!

Check out the stories covered in this edition:

  • Learning how to get comfortable with feeling uncomfortable
  • AgSolver – analyzing profitability on your acres
  • How economic times are driving credit policy enforcement
  • Important tax benefits
  • Changes in the Grain Division
  • Lengthening your usefulness of feed bins
  • Spotlight on the Heck Dairy in Mondovi
  • What sets Countryside apart from others
  • What to look for with LP tank tilt this spring
  • Countryside’s commitment to Drive to Feed Kids
  • HVAC spring tune up
  • Countryside’s Internship Program and partnership with Chippewa Valley Technical College

Countryside Cooperative Spring 2019 Compass

Cryptosporidium parvum: What to do when your calves have it and how to prevent it

Dave Renaud DVM PhD

Cryptosporidium parvum (C. parvum) is a parasite that commonly infects dairy calves in the first month of life. An Ontario study found that 41 per cent of calves were infected with C. parvum, however, there was a wide range of infection levels on the 51 participating dairy farms, with anywhere from 0 to 70 per cent of calves infected. Infection with C. parvum can lead to calf diarrhea and contribute to reduced average daily gain (ADG) and ultimately reduced milk production. Due to these consequences, it is important to lessen its occurrence on farm…


Prime the Pump

Robert B. Corbett DVM, PAS

Recently, there has been an emphasis placed on the study of the development and classification of the human microbiome, and its effects on human health. Studies have shown that the human microbiome established early in life has an effect on allergies, asthma, colitis, and type 1 diabetes, just to mention a few. It also has a major effect on the normal development of the gut immune system as well as protection of the gut from invasion by pathogens. It is also well-established that there is a gut-brain axis in humans involving a bi-directional communication system between the gut and the brain that plays a major role in the development of major depressive disorder (MDD)…

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Weather Disasters: Salvaging Corn Crop as Silage

Keith A. Bryan, Ph.D., Chrs. Hansen

Weather disasters are unavoidable during the growing season or at harvest. One of the key factors for determining ultimate silage quality during these times is the quality of the crop and how it differs from normal. Strict adherence to critical control points is paramount to salvaging the best quality silage possible, given the weather extremes.

Flooded Fields
Heavy rains can cause flooding and standing water in corn fields at or near harvest. Below are several points to consider when making corn silage from these fields:

  • Continue to monitor whole plant corn moisture during the drying of fields and consider harvesting as corn grain if the crop becomes excessively dry for good quality silage and feed inventory permits this shift.
  • Flood damaged corn is more prone to fungal and bacterial contamination, along with ash from silt. High chopping, above the silt line, will minimize these contaminants, increase NDF-D and starch percent. Consider shorter chop length to enhance fermentation and packing.
  • Promote excellent fermentation by using a high-quality inoculant. SiloSolve® FC and SiloSolve® MC have provided good fermentation and reduced the deleterious effects of contamination during ensiling and at feed-out.
  • Increase packing weight to ensure high densities, especially if the crop is drier than targeted. Higher densities will minimize the fungal and pathogen load.
  • Monitor corn silage quality, especially ash, starch, mycotoxin load and the fermentation profile, at feed-out paying attention to animal health and performance. Consider feeding a highly researched probiotic (BOVAMINE® brand products) to enhance cow health and mitigate the effects of molds and mycotoxins.

Hail Damage
Hail damage during the growing season of corn destined for silage presents several of the same challenges as flooded corn. Most notably, hail-damaged corn will be at elevated risk for fungal growth due to release of moisture and WSC that promote epiphytic fungal growth.

  • Continue to monitor whole plant corn moisture while watching fungal
  • Promote excellent fermentation by using a high-quality inoculant. SiloSolve® FC and SiloSolve® MC, applied at 1.5-2.0 times the normal label rate, have provided good fermentation and reduced the deleterious effects of fungi during ensiling and at feed-out of hail-damaged corn for silage.
  • Similar to corn silage made from flooded fields, continually monitor corn silage quality, especially mold and mycotoxin load, at feed-out paying attention to animal health and performance. Consider feeding a highly researched probiotic (BOVAMINE® brand products) to enhance cow health and mitigate the effects of molds and mycotoxins.

Drought-stricken corn can be a challenge to harvest as corn for silage depending on the duration, severity and when the drought occurred during the growing season.

  • Nitrates pose the greatest health risk to animals fed drought-stricken corn, especially when fermentation time has been minimal. Allow at least 30-45 days for fermentation to proceed before feeding.
  • Elevate cutting height to reduce nitrates as they accumulate in the lower third of the plant.
  • Be safe! Nitrogen gasses produced during the initial days of ensiling are lethal to both animals and humans!

Early Frost

  • An early frost is the least detrimental weather occurrence when it comes to making quality silage compared with those mentioned previously.
  • Monitor whole plant corn moisture to ensure hitting your target for silage. Frosted corn dries down faster than non-frosted corn. Frozen corn does not dry very rapidly.
  • Harvest quickly to avoid overly dry corn silage that will be more difficult to pack and ferment.
  • Use a highly researched inoculant (SiloSolve® brand products) to promote good fermentation.

Practical Implications
Weather-damaged corn for silage requires more detailed attention to the critical control points for making high-quality silage compared with corn grown in normal growing years.

  • Monitor whole plant corn moisture to ensure hitting your target for silage.
  • Avoid bringing contaminants to the silo.
  • Use a highly researched inoculant (SiloSolve® brand products) to promote good fermentation and minimize effects of deleterious bacteria and fungi.
  • Strive to attain higher packing densities as this will minimize fungal growth.
  • Monitor silage quality and animal performance at feed-out. Frequent sampling and analysis for contaminants (yeast, mold, mycotoxins, nitrates, etc.) should provide additional insights for effective feeding management.
  • Consider feeding a highly researched probiotic (BOVAMINE® brand products) to minimize adverse health events due to suboptimal silage hygiene.

Preparing Your Hogs to Show

Mike Wachtendonk, Countryside Nutritionist

The most important thing you can do to prepare your animal for the summer/fall show season is to weigh it every two or three weeks—and even more often as the show date approaches. Monitoring its weight will tell you if you need additional energy, rate of gain or conditioning.

Ask a Countryside livestock nutritionist to assist you in determining whether the body type of your animal matches up with its skeletal development. They can recommend additives to increase muscle or back cover.

Use Countryside’s Show Hog Grower and Finisher, both pelleted products, to take your animal from 40 lbs. to finish weight. Both the grower and the finisher are available at any Countryside feed store.

Show Hog Grower is designed to be fed from 40 lbs. to 150 lbs.

The grower offers a lysine level of 1.2 which works out to 20% protein. It includes the additive OutPace (a prebiotic/probiotic) to improve gut health in hogs being moved and stressed.

The goal, in this first stage of feeding, is to take advantage of the hog’s genetic potential through expression of muscle and average daily gain. A higher lysine product does just that.

You probably have your show hog by now. The heaviest ones are getting close to 150 lbs. Countryside’s Show Hog Finisher is designed for second stage feeding—from 150 to show weight (270-290 lbs.).

The finisher contains a lysine level of 1.0, which works out to 18% protein. It also contains the additive Ambitine an all-natural essential oil and Bio-Mos® product for gut health. The closer to market, the less efficient a hog’s metabolism can be. This additive increases absorption of nutrients when metabolism becomes less efficient.

To find out which show feed is right for you, talk to the counter staff at your local Countryside feed store or call the Menomonie feed mill at 844-856-1515.


Countryside Cooperative has also developed a beef show feed that combines Purina Show Steer with the steam flaked corn we produce at our new Menomonie mill. Named Beef Show Steer, this product features increased digestibility and palatability compared to other beef show feeds on the market

Call Mike Wachtendonk or Sarah Kinnard at 844-856-1515 for all the details.



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