Just as we want our baby's diapers to be clean, soft and sanitized, dairy farmers face the same issue with udder cloths for their herd. If you have a degree in animal husbandry or large animal care, you learned all about the importance of cleanliness for the animal's health and the product their produce. But if you are interested in the small farms movement, there is plenty to learn about taking care of Bossie's laundry.
Udder cloths are used for cleaning the udder and teats of a cow before it is milked by hand or by machine. Proper cleaning is imperative in preventing bovine mastitis that can cost a dairy farmer about $200.00 per cow per year if not treated. The most effective and least expensive treatment to prevent the problem is the proper cleaning and drying of the animal's udder.Many dairies use disposable towels for cleaning and drying udders. However, that can become expensive so there are specially formulated detergents and proper steps for sanitation that must be used with udder cloths.
For proper sanitation, the cloths must be cleaned with hot water, hot-air drying and bleach. The biggest culprit for bacteria growth is the large amount of organic material that is found on each towel. This organic matter must not only be removed from the fabric but also rinsed out of the washer completely so that towels are not recontaminated. What are the best tips in handling the organic matter issues?
Wash in hot water. It is imperative to use very hot water - greater than 160 degrees F. - for washing the towels. Most household water heaters are set at 140 degrees F. or lower so there may need to be a special water heater designated for the farm laundry. Or, water heater temperatures can be adjusted as needed.
Cleanliness in the work area. Transporting soiled and clean udder cloths must be handled with care. There is no need to worry about sanitizing the towels if you carry them back to the milking parlor in a dirty basket or held in your arms next to dirty work clothes. Baskets should be sanitized with bleach between each use. A covered container will keep towels clean until ready to use.
Use chlorine bleach correctly. Chlorine bleach should not be added during the wash cycle because bleach and detergent actually fight each other chemically reducing the efficiency of each. Chlorine bleach should be added during the rinse cycle.
Select a sanitizing detergent. Veterinary and animal supply houses carry specially-formulated detergents that contain a sanitizing agent. They are available in both liquid and powder formulas and eliminate the need for bleach. They also claim that no high-heat drying is necessary.
If you are beginning a small farm with goats, sheep or a cow, learn these techniques to keep your herd healthy and your dairy products top quality.
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