Maintaining proper hygiene on a dairy farm presents challenges. These challenges can be met with an array of products designed to keep your dairy farm clean and safe. Harvesting dairy products must be done safely to ensure the health of animals, staff, and consumers.
There are roughly 13 essential products that can and should be used by dairy farms to ensure good hygiene. These products come in different varieties and costs. In general, these specific products will provide the most thorough methods of keeping your livestock and the fruits of their labor clean and safe. Keep reading to learn about 13 essential dairy hygiene products worth trying.
1) Teat Dips for Dairy Hygiene
Teat dips are used to sanitize the teats of cows, usually placed in a cup or container to apply to the teats. Teat dips are produced in various ways, though all generally perform a similar function. These dips are meant to perform the following:
These functions are important to a hygienic milking process. Cow udders, like all skin, can be susceptible to bacteria and infection. Mastitis is a common skin infection caused by bacteria in messy environments. Since it is near impossible to keep a farm full of cows 100% clean all the time, teat cleaning is crucial for producing sanitary dairy products.
There are debates about which type of teat dips to use. A good teat dip is one that both cleans and disinfects. They may sound the same, yet it is important to have a teat dip that does all-in-one. Consider the following in choosing a teat dip:
There are also debates about iodine in teat dips. Some farmers prefer non-iodine dips to prevent drying of the udder skin. In general, it is good to make sure that your teat dips will perform cleaning and disinfecting roles. Making sure there are no bacteria present on the udder while milking is crucial to prevent tainted milk.
2) Teat Cups for Dairy Hygiene
Teat cups are the containers that dips are placed in. As their name suggests, these are cups with separate attachments meant to make the teat dipping process smoother. Teat cups also serve an essential function beyond dipping:
Making sure the milk film is washed away before each new milking is important. If the milk film is not washed away, bacteria can grow on the udders and contaminate the milk after each successive milking.
Once the milk film has been flushed, the teat dip sanitizes the udder skin to prevent the growth of bacteria.
Teat cups are a must-have product for dairy farms. Not only do they help perform teat dips, but they also help keep the udder clean for each milking. As mentioned, preventing bacteria from contaminating milk is an important function of dairy farms. To ensure this, keep as many teat cups as needed per the size and output of your farm.
3) Cleaners for Dairy Hygiene
Cleaning materials are needed to maintain the hygiene of the farm. Cleaners are meant to thoroughly wash away thick buildups of dirt and other materials, while disinfectants only target surface areas.
Cleaners work differently from disinfectants and are important for both keeping livestock and their pens hygienic.
Different types of cleaners are needed for various functions.
Cleaners are composed of various materials designed not to harm the livestock and staff with chemicals. Cleaners can come in the forms of:
There are some cleaners on the market that perform disinfectant functions. The critical thing to note here is disinfectants do not perform the vital role of cleaners. Cleaners are designed to wash away all dirt and other materials before a disinfectant is applied.
Suppose a disinfectant is applied to skin or surface areas without a cleaning solution. In that case, this will not kill the bacteria buried beneath dirt and other materials. Ensure the areas you are sanitizing, whether skin or surface areas, use a proper combination of cleaner and disinfectant for thorough cleansing.
4) Disinfectants for Dairy Hygiene
Disinfectants (or sanitizers) are explicitly designed to attack bacteria on surface areas and skin. They are essential to use in tandem with cleaning products. You might consider that disinfectants are an all-in-one solution to hygiene. They are not, unfortunately.
You may picture the ideal disinfectant as a silver bullet that responds equally to all surface areas. This is also untrue. The popular myth of disinfectants tends to be that they:
While these features are what an ideal disinfectant should have, the reality is vastly different from expectations.
For farms, the existence of multiple bacterial infections on various surface areas is pressing. No one type of disinfectant will be effective against every bacteria on every surface. Ask yourself these questions before deciding on a disinfectant:
As mentioned, disinfectants alone will not eliminate all bacteria without proper cleaners. Knowing what you need and applying it in tandem with cleaners is the best way to get the most out of disinfectants for dairy farms.
All-in-one Cleaners Products for Dairy Hygiene
There are certain products that combine traditional cleaners with disinfectants. You can effectively use these and maintain proper hygiene.
The key here is to know the chemical composition and what surfaces they are best used for. As mentioned, not every cleaner and disinfectant will work with every material surface. Likewise, products meant for skin likely will not work on non-organic surfaces and vice versa.
Make sure you research the chemical composition of these products first. Many want to find a miracle all-in-one solution to cleaning up, yet these are often not easy to find. In addition, the product must be compatible with the surface you wish to apply it to, or it will not be effective.
5) Milk Tank Cleaners for Dairy Hygiene
Keeping milk tanks clean is vital for any dairy farm. Dairy products, such as milk, will have bacteria buildup left behind in their tanks. Therefore, ensuring that these tanks stay clean is crucial. This maintains a healthy farm and ensures a longer lifespan of milk tanks and milking equipment.
A popular route of many dairy farms is CIP (clean in place) equipment. These are special machines designed to perform the following:
Many modern CIP machines are automated to log specific preparation methods to be used in the future. There are also manual CIP machines used to clean milk tanks. CIP machines also use cleaners and disinfectants that generally come in the form of:
These materials are filled in CIP unit for every wash cycle or as needed. This ensures your milk tanks and machines are free from bacteria which is essential for preventing illness and improving equipment life.
Watch this video that explains the automated CIP system and how it works.
6) Hoof Care for Dairy Hygiene
One may overlook the importance of hoof health, yet it is of high significance in dairy farming. Cows in many dairy farms experience hoof issues because of their confined spaces. Some studies also suggested that the cow feed containing a high amount of protein to improve milk production can cause hoof issues. Consistent contact with manure also exacerbates overgrown hooves and lameness.
There are many ways that hooves can be cared for on a dairy farm. Some of the tools and methods below are useful in maintaining hoof hygiene:
A common cause of hoof infection is laminitis, which can infect the rest of a cow from its hoof. This can contribute to lower milk yields in dairy cows. Other issues that dairy farmers will face with hooves are:
Hairy heel warts can be treated easily with simple topical antibiotic solutions. Sole ulcers can be prevented through foot baths and regular hoof trimming. Generally, cows should have their hooves trimmed at least twice a year for optimal health.
Watch this useful video on hoof trimming of a cow.
7) Udder Wipes and Washes for Dairy Hygiene
There are many wipes and washes on the market specifically for keeping udders clean. These products are readily available, though they have to be applied carefully.
There are generic udder cleaners meant for preparing udders for a teat dip and milking. As mentioned, udders must be cleaned and disinfected before milking to prevent bacteria from contaminating the milk. Udder cleaners generally are sold in two varieties:
These products must be applied to udders before the milking process. They are designed for cleaning udders, so there is no need to worry about harsh chemicals affecting the cows. It is important to follow the directions of the product, however. If you are using udder wipes and washes, it is best to do the following:
If you are using udder wipes and washes, it is best to do the following
Paper towels are best recommended to use with udder wash. If a towel or cloth is used, it must be disinfected before the next use. Udder wipes cannot be reused with different cows. Each new udder will need fresh wiping materials not used on other animals or surfaces.
8) Dietary Supplements for Dairy Hygiene
Cows, like any other animal, require specific diets and nutrients in order to remain healthy. Cows generally eat grass and hay as their primary diet. Cows can eat up to four to five tons of forage a year.
If your dairy farm has an open pasture, it is best to let the cows eat in that pasture. If a field is not accessible, then farm owners and hands will have to maintain the specific dietary needs of the cow. Cows require the following vitamins and minerals in order to stay healthy:
These vitamins and minerals help reinforce intestinal hygiene for cows in crucial growth stages. There are various supplements on the market designed to supply cows with these essential nutrients. These supplements are usually available in capsule form and recommended for dairy farms that do not have pastures for cows to roam.
Promoting healthy cow guts prevents them from becoming lame. The vitamins and minerals listed are what cows need in nature to help digest their mainly grass and hay diets. Keeping supplements in hand can be crucial for proper hygiene and regular milk production in a cow.
Do I Need Dietary Supplements for Dairy Hygiene?
Yes and no—cows do require the vitamins and minerals listed for healthy growth and lifespan. Whether you need to keep supplements depends upon whether your farm has a grazing pasture.
Cows on farms with large grazing pastures will usually get their needed doses of vitamins and minerals from the grass in the field.
However, cows on dairy farms without large grazing pastures will probably need dietary supplements, especially for calves.
The most crucial stage for cows is their younger days. Farms without proper grazing land should keep ample amounts of dietary supplements for their calves, to ensure they get the nutrients they need to grow big and healthy.
9) Drinking-Water Solutions for Dairy Hygiene
Water pipes are one of the primary areas where bacteria can grow. Indeed, many infections in farm animals stem from water pipes and filtration systems that are not kept clean properly.
Disinfecting water has obvious benefits for both dairy farmers and their livestock, such as
The main disinfectant for water sources tends to be tablets such as chlorine dioxide. They work fast to purify water, making it safe to drink.
Some CIP machines can even regularly clean your water supply for you automatically in different time intervals.
Ensure that you keep water disinfectants available. While doing so, also check your water filtration systems regularly for cleaning. Bacteria love to grow in damp places such as pipes, and animals will not drink from tainted water.
Therefore, for proper cow hygiene, keeping clean water for them is essential.
10) Housing and Dairy Hygiene
The cleaner the living space, the healthier livestock will be. Maintaining a clean shed for your dairy cows is crucial to their overall health and milk output. To keep a clean cowshed, you can make use of certain materials. Consider the following materials for proper bedding for dairy cows:
For dairy cows, the most popular bedding materials tend to be sawdust and wood shavings. This is primarily because these materials will break down naturally during the disposal process. However, the drawback here is that sawdust and wood shavings are conducive to the growth of bacteria.
The other materials listed come with more drawbacks than sawdust and wood shavings. Hay, for example, is good bedding but will also be eaten by the cows. Hay covered in bacteria, when swallowed, will make cows sick. Having bedding that can be disposed of easily and keep the cows healthy is vital for any dairy farm.
Why Sawdust and Wood Shavings for Dairy Hygiene?
As mentioned, sawdust and wood shavings work best because of their ability to dissolve easier during disposal. The major drawbacks here are:
- Sawdust and wood shavings are conducive to bacterial growth
- The smaller the sawdust particles, the easier bacteria will grow
The other bedding materials can also be used, yet tend to suffer more severe drawbacks than sawdust and wood shavings. These drawbacks tend to have more dire consequences for dairy farmers especially.
Watch this informational video on how to optimise lying comfort of the dairy cows.
Drawbacks of Other Bedding Material
- Compost materials require thorough ventilation to prevent respiratory infections. A cow’s food and water must also be kept in separate areas to avoid compost contamination, which has proven to be uncomfortable living arrangements for cows
- Geotextile mattresses are pricey. They are usually marketed as not requiring any bedding, yet research has shown cows tend to reject them without more bedding added to it
- Paper is cheap yet does not provide much cushion and usually has to be incorporated with other bedding material
- Hay is a versatile bedding material that works well on farms, yet can be an issue for cows. Hay must be bought in specific sizes to prevent cows from eating them and possibly getting sick
Keep these factors in mind when choosing a bedding material, as where a cow lives and sleeps will determine its hygiene and happiness.
11) Pump Dispensers and Dairy Hygiene
Pump dispensers are designed for cleaning and sanitation. They work by pumping cleaning solutions onto the necessary surfaces you need them on. Pump dispensers work best with the following:
- Chemical disinfectants
These devices are handy for the quick release of cleaning materials in the portions needed. They can be simple and complex, depending on the level of cleaning required. Pump dispensers are suitable for personal hygiene (washing hands) and cleaning larger surface areas and tanks.
Keeping ready-to-go dispensers helps save time on cleaning, streamlining the overall milking and cleanup process. In addition, it is good to keep a variety of soap and disinfectants handy for both skin and other surfaces. As mentioned, different surfaces will require different cleaning materials to be more effective.
Pump dispensers are decent accessories to keep on hand for proper hygiene on a dairy farm. Keeping multiple pump dispensers handy for quick access is essential for maintaining the overall cleanliness and sanitation of the farm, livestock, and staff.
In addition, any measure that can be taken to prevent the spread of germs and bacteria should be taken on a dairy farm.
12) Brushes and Brooms for Dairy Hygiene
As small as they may seem, keeping proper brushes and brooms handy will make for a cleaner dairy farm. Indeed, there are even special brushes and brooms for farming. These brushes and brooms are used to clean both the animals and their surroundings.
There are various brushes and brooms used in dairy farms. These brushes serve different functions, best maximized for their specific uses. Brushes most used in dairy farms are:
- Hand brushes for cleaning
- Bulk tank brushes
- Inflation brushes
- Claw cleaning brushes
- Valve outlet brushes
- Tubing and pipe brushes
- Bottle brushes
- Floor and wall brushes
There are also many brooms to be kept handy here. Brooms, however, are not quite as specialized. For proper dairy farm hygiene, it is best to keep these types of brooms available:
- Multi-purpose brooms
- Milkhouse brooms
- Broom handle braces
Milkhouse brooms are designed to push excess liquid off of floors. These are important to keep for dairy farms in times of cleanup. Having a specific brush and broom for certain tasks is necessary to ensure cleanliness on the farm. Big messes can be a challenge to clean properly if you lack the necessary tools, of course.
Which Brushes and Brooms are Best for Dairy Farms?
In general, the best brushes and brooms to keep on hand for dairy farm hygiene are as follows:
These brushes and brooms will be the most effective at cleaning up around the dairy farm. It is good to make sure your brushes are capable of heavy scrubbing for various surfaces. Brooms should be utilized to clean up general areas and the Milkhouse.
Knowing how these spaces should be clean will give better insight into what brushes and brooms will be necessary. As long as these products can handle rugged cleanup, they should work well to keep your dairy farm clean.
13) Milk Filters for Dairy Hygiene
Milk filters are essential in the milking process. These filters come in various forms, yet all generally fulfill the same function. These filters help to achieve high quality and greater value of milk produced. They can detect traces of diseases (such as mastitis) and sift through any other impurities that may be present. Milk filters are available in these different forms:
These three are the most commonly used in milk filtration systems.
There are also four different types of milk filtration done on dairy farms:
As mentioned, the primary purpose here is checking to make sure the milk is not tainted with any bacteria or diseases. Having a proper filtration method ensures that high milk quality is maintained. Also, it can make the farmers aware of their cows' health.
For better standing, watch this useful training video on Milk Filters.
Do Certain Milk Filters Work Better than Others?
Not necessarily. The main filtration products listed perform similar functions without much divergence in the quality of filtration. These filtration products are made of different materials and will perform in different ways. This does not mean one product is superior to the other, yet it does give you an idea of what you would be working with.
It is best to know the types of milk filtration you will do, however. In short, the four filtration methods work in the following ways:
Any of the filtration products listed can achieve these methods of filtration. As mentioned, different filtration methods will require different processes to achieve the required outcome. Knowing this beforehand will help make milk filtration easier.