As youngstock facilities empty out over the summer months, dairy producers should take the opportunity to disinfect pens in preparation for the next calving season, said veterinary consultant Dr. Tommy Heffernan.

“The low level of immunity in calves makes them very vulnerable to disease, especially in the first days and weeks of life,” said Dr. Heffernan.

While it is important to practice good hygiene during this period and support immunity development, lingering pathogens from the previous calving season will further increase the infection risk, making it harder to keep calves healthy.”

According to Dr. Heffernan, pre-calving hygiene isn’t a complicated task and can be taken care of in three days:

Day 1

Remove all debris, manure, old bedding, etc. from the pens. Use a power washer to remove any visible residues, paying close attention to wall and ground crevices since they capture faeces.

Day 2

Steam clean the entire facility to sterilise the environment and remove any stuck residues.

Day 3

Soak the shed with the appropriate disinfectant according to directions and let it sit dry until calving season.

“When making decisions on what needs to be sanitised, look at your farm like a production line from where the calf will first be to where it will end up,” said Dr. Heffernan.

“Everything in that production line from feeding equipment and calving pens to gates needs to be cleaned.”