Last week, the Calf Care Connection put on by PDPW went off without a hitch, full of calf persons from all over Wisconsin. We were very honored to sponsor Dr.Sam Leadly, who spoke in depth about the on farm cleanliness for our calf care materials.

I personally believe that hygiene is a much overlooked topic on farm, especially with calves. I never understood how we as farmers with 100% understanding know that if we don’t have the proper temperature, acid, detergent, and sanitizer for our milking equipment that we will fail all inspections. And eventually won’t have our milk picked up!

But when it comes to our future investments – our calves, we think that a quick rinse and some bleach is going to do the trick.

As Dr. Sam Leadly mentions in his Blog Calves with Sam“The most common barrier to adequate cleaning was the lack of a brush that would fit up into the nipple.”

At the Calf Care Connection we were able to use our Luminometer ATP meters to test the microbial contamination.  Microbial Contamination is the left over materials on our calf feeding equipment or any equipment; after the item has been cleaned.

Some folks brought in different calf feeding and calf care items and allowed us to do on the spot ATP tests. The majority of the items was within the proper standards. Dr. Sam Leadly uses these parameters when testing with an Luminometer/ATP meter “I have been using a reading of 100 RLU as realistic on-farm upper threshold for calf feeding equipment”.

What do we need to improve our hygiene?

We need to make sure that we have brushes for all items of calf feeding. Brushes are a necessity for being the Calf Hero with hygiene; due to the fact that brushes will break up the biofilm on our calf feeding items. Once we have completed good COMPLETE brushing of our items in 120℉ water with soap/detergent to help keep the bacteria from settling back to the surface, we can then place our items out to properly dry or drain.

Who carries out the cleaning protocols? 

In all reality if we want to ensure that our Calf Gear is getting properly cleaned, sanitized, and stored; we need to assign the job to ONE person. This person is going to be your Calf Hero, they are going to work diligently to ensure that every Calf Gear item is maintained to the highest standards.

How do we make sure the proper cleaning happens?

Luminometer_ATP_CutOutHowever, it never hurts to double check our cleaning protocols with some hard numbers and evidence. That is where the use of an ATP luminometer comes into play. Using the ATP meter allows for you to see exact numbers that will inform the calf manager of how well the cleaning process is taking place.

The higher the number, the more microbial contamination is present. Meaning that the cleaning process needs to be checked upon, and possibly changed.



Another test that can be preformed on farm is the Pro-Clean Surface Protein tests. This is an all-in-one test with no ATP meter required. The tests are color coded and give the user an instant Pass or Fail outcome.


At the end of the day we have to start somewhere and sometime! Overall superior hygiene, carried out by our Calf Heros. Makes the absolute world of difference; to our future replacements, employees and overall operation!