Clean, Clean, Clean

Anyone that has experience with calves knows that the most used word in your vocabulary is clean. Clean this, clean that, did you make sure those are clean? We keep saying it, but what does that really mean?

First things first, I like to use the “would you lick it?” theory. If you are not willing to LICK whatever you are giving to your calves, it’s not clean enough for them. It might seem odd, but it is the first step to helping everyone understand what you need to expect when it comes to taking care of calves.

Does that bottle have some yellowing and a weird smell? Would you lick that? Probably not.

Does that grain bucket have a little dried manure on it? Would you lick that? Absolutely not.

Okay, so now you have everything clean enough that you would lick it with your own tongue, awesome. But wait, there’s more!

Just because things LOOK clean, doesn’t mean they ARE clean. I have found that the best way to see how you are doing on your cleaning endeavors is to do regular sanitation audits.

A sanitation audit is where you go through your maternity pen, calf feeding equipment, calf prep areas, tanks, hoses, and anything where nasty bacteria could be hiding, and take a swab with an ATP meter. This tool will help you find the areas where even the cleanest looking bugs might hide.

Below are a few examples of places where bugs like to hide and you would never suspect them. These are photos of things taken in our calf barn. We specifically picked things that we thought LOOKED clean. Turns out, a lot of times they aren’t as clean as we think they are.

The goal for an ATP meter reading on feeding equipment is less than 10. As you can see we have some that are above and some that are below.

This is a photo taken of a bucket reading from our barn. It reads 7, which is a great! This bucket was used for milk that morning, rinsed with warm water, hung to dry, and sprayed with DK-ll. We used to just use warm water but we found that we were getting counts of 120 or higher. So we decided to implement the DK-ll final rinse. It has paid off in more ways than one.
This is our pump that pumps milk to both of our prewean barns. This is a dream to bacteria. Pumps are typically warm, high moisture, and a perfect place for bacteria to call home. As you can see, our tank pump read 0. We had just finished running our normal wash cycle when this test was taken.

While ATP meters are a great tool, they do have some downfalls. One thing to be careful of is the fact that this meter does pick up GOOD and BAD bacteria. So the number you get on a reading might not all be harmful bacteria, but if it is higher than 20 it is still worth taking a look into.

The second downfall is that they can only be accurate when used on a dry surface. They will still read on a wet surface, but it isn’t as precise.

Outside of those two things, this tool is a must use for someone looking into doing a better job cleaning in their calf program.

A few of the other readings we have had recently are:

Pre- starting to spray things with DK-ll…..

Milk Mix Tank – 3, Feed hose inside – 0, water cup pen 1- 5, water cup pen 12-43, clean pail-0, pail pen 16-37, pail pen 16- 506(pre- DK-ll final rinse, yikes!), pail pen 7-27, pail pen 2-8.

Post Spraying with DK-ll:

As you can see, we have bugs in our barn that we don’t get a hold of with our regular routine. We spend a large amount of time cleaning things around our barn, but even so, there are still high counts here and there. We have significantly reduced our counts since adding DK-ll to our calf barn systems!


Good question.

We don’t do anything crazy, we don’t have time for that! But I will let you in on our secret. It is three easy ingredients, and I would be willing to bet that you have at least two of them already.

Water! (of course)

Dawn dish soap (what?!)

Lastly, and my favorite,

DK-II (DK two). This product is made up of hydrogen peroxide and acidified water (IKE JOE). There is a lot of people that will say they don’t like hydrogen peroxide products because they are like bleach, they don’t work. I couldn’t disagree more! We LOVE this product! It’s fast, it’s easy, and it WORKS! The H2O2 does the initial cleaning, but is quickly used up if the bacteria load is too high. The IKE JOE follows up and continues to clean even after the H2O2 is used up, making them the perfect team. DK-ll can keep cleaning for days.

How do you use it?

All you have to do is get yourself a one gallon container and a pump top that dispenses one ounce per pump (which comes with the gallon of DK-ll!). The ratio we use is 1 oz DK-ll to 1 gallon of water. That’s it! One pump into one gallon. It is important that you mix the proper ratio for the application you are trying to use it for (1 oz/gallong for feeding equipment, 3 oz/gallon for pen washing). That will make it the most effective.

If you are regularly disinfecting large areas, I recommend getting a weed sprayer to make a premix that is portable. This application would be good for spraying down buckets after feeding, disinfecting feeders/bunks, or pen walls. You can literally put it on anything and it won’t wreck it. If you REALLY want to get serious, SCG Solutions also offers a metered injection system, that will have your product mixed properly, and always ready to use. We have one in our barn and the amount of time it has saved us has paid for the system 10x over.

The best part?

You don’t have to rinse it, you don’t have to keep the animals away from it, it is completely SAFE!

The two downfalls, it doesn’t play nice with brass. Keep that in mind when buying sprayers and containers. The other is that it can not be mixed with bleach or anything in that family of products (chlorine). It is best to be used to final rinse after using soap and water to clean.

The proof?

We transport milk in a cooler (the same kind you put your beer in) to haul extra milk back to the tank when we finish in one barn. We ran the ATP meter over it, after we had cleaned it normally (dish soap and chlorine), it came back pretty high. We then sprayed it down with DK-II. Just sprayed, no scrubbing. We then swabbed it TWICE because we couldn’t believe it, we got ZERO both times! We were sold.

You are probably very aware that your calves need to be in a clean environment, but how?

There are two ways to make sure you are doing a good job. First, the lick test. Next time you see something gross by your calves, ask the person that left it there to lick it, I bet they won’t question another bucket ever again! Second, make sure you have a good cleaning and sanitation program in place, and check to make sure it’s working regularly with an ATP meter and regular sanitation audits.

If you have any questions PLEASE message us, or contact us! We would love to share more information about the DK-ll.

I am also available to come to your farm and do regular sanitation audits for your calf facilities. It can be once a week, once a month, or whenever you feel you need some back up to know you are doing a good job cleaning. I can help you set up a cleaning program to get you started strong with your new products.

Find our contact information on our ABOUT US page!

At AVA Group Inc., we pride ourselves on promoting safe and effective products that are practical and aren’t going to break the bank. We want to share our calf knowledge and program with you so you can raise the best calves possible.

Clean calves are happy calves!

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