Clean Calf Hutches: Not Just a Spring Cleaning Project – Brian Wesemann, Calf-Tel
Brian Wesemann is the director of sales for Calf-Tel, a manufacturer of calf pens, hutches and group-housing systems. He says calf raisers should really think of the calf hutch like a dish. Calves naturally chew and lick on the hutches all the time. Just like you sanitize dishes between uses, hutches should be sanitized between calves to limit disease spread throughout your herd.
Wesemann first recommends selecting a good sanitizer that works best for you and your system. He said many products are available and it really comes down to your preferences. For example, TEK-TROL® is a more technologically advanced disinfectant, but a bleach-water solution is readily available.
Next, make sure you scrub the hutch. A pressure washer certainly helps, but it’s also good to hand-scrub the hutch, especially the inside corners, to make sure you clean every surface. Wesemann also reminds you to focus on the inside of the hutch versus just spraying off the outside. After all, it’s the inside that the calf touches.
Most bacteria need moisture to survive. Therefore, allowing a drying period after washing is helpful in breaking the disease cycle. Wesemann said ideally a calf hutch should sit in the sun for 24 to 48 hours before a new calf is placed in the hutch.
It’s also important to make sure your calf hutches are in good condition. Cracks and crevices can hold residues and be difficult to clean. As you wash your hutches, take a good look at the hutch and decide if it should be replaced in the near future. Having a good idea of the condition of your hutches allows for better planning for the investment.
These same rules apply to superhutches. We might not give these hutches as much attention, assuming that the older animals are able to handle exposure to pathogens. However, as Wesemann points out, older animals also produce more waste. Thus, it’s equally important to clean superhutches between groups of calves.
Finally, Wesemann said the best way to approach cleaning calf hutches is to “think efficiency.” Gather all of your materials – pressure washer, disinfectants, brushes, etc. – and move them to the cleaning area before you start moving hutches. In addition, if you’re currently considering any other building or expansion projects on the farm, Wesemann says this might be a good time to consider adding a designated cleaning area. Several farms he works with have built wash bays that allow for easy cleaning as well as supply storage, further boosting the efficiency amongst the busy demands of your calf program.
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