Dairy farmers can fight growing disease threat with chlorine and stainless steel

July 20, 2010

Two good tips for preventing Johne's disease on dairy farms: Use stainless steel water troughs and add chlorine to the water. That's according to Kim Cook, an Agricultural Research Service (ARS) microbiologist at the agency's Animal Waste Management Research Unit in Bowling Green, Ky. Cook did the research with Carl Bolster, a hydrologist at Bowling Green, and other colleagues.

Stainless steel troughs are expensive, but not as expensive as Johne's disease. Caused by the bacterium Mycobacterium paratuberculosis, this disease can cause losses of as much as $200,000 per year in a herd of 1,000 dairy cows. The losses are mostly from a drop in milk production and the need to cull infected animals. A continued increase in the number of cases of Johne's disease among dairy cattle suggests that there may be unknown sources of contamination on farms.

Cook thought that water troughs would provide a perfect home for , so she counted the in the slimy layers in water on the sides of the most commonly used troughs: concrete, plastic, stainless steel, and galvanized steel.

She wanted to see if there were differences in the ability of the bacteria to adhere to and survive on the surfaces of the different materials.

Cook found high concentrations of the bacteria on all troughs within three days of inoculating the water with the bacteria, and they survived for more than 149 days. But the bacterial survival rate was lowest on the stainless steel.

When she added 3 tablespoons of chlorine bleach per 100 gallons of trough water weekly, she found that, by the end of the third week, less than 1 percent of the bacteria remained on stainless and galvanized steel troughs. On the other hand, 20 percent remained on plastic and 34 percent remained on the concrete troughs.

The chlorine's disinfectant effects may have been weakened by the higher pH of concrete and by the tendency of plastic to absorb chlorine.

Based on these results, using stainless steel water troughs with chlorinated water should be one of the recommended practices included in any Johne's control plan, according to Cook.

Explore further: Penn State offers tips to handle turkeys safely and keep the holiday pleasant

Related Stories

Veterinary college develops vaccine for Johne's disease

December 8, 2008

(PhysOrg.com) -- Scientists at Cornell's College of Veterinary Medicine have developed a vaccine that prevents Johne's disease, a condition that leads to $220 million to $250 million in losses annually to the U.S. dairy industry. ...

Stainless Steel Catalyst Lowers Cost of Microbial Fuel Cells

February 23, 2009

(PhysOrg.com) -- Tiny bacteria munching on and metabolizing biodegradable materials can produce electrons that could be harnessed by microbial fuel cells for energy. By taking advantage of the catalytic reactions of these ...

Recommended for you

Study finds 'rudimentary' empathy in macaques

December 1, 2015

(Phys.org)—A pair of researchers with Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique and Université Lyon, in France has conducted a study that has shown that macaques have at least some degree of empathy towards their fellow ...

Scientists overcome key CRISPR-Cas9 genome editing hurdle

December 1, 2015

Researchers at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard and the McGovern Institute for Brain Research at MIT have engineered changes to the revolutionary CRISPR-Cas9 genome editing system that significantly cut down on "off-target" ...

Which came first—the sponge or the comb jelly?

December 1, 2015

Bristol study reaffirms classical view of early animal evolution. Whether sponges or comb jellies (also known as sea gooseberries) represent the oldest extant animal phylum is of crucial importance to our understanding of ...

Trap-jaw ants exhibit previously unseen jumping behavior

December 1, 2015

A species of trap-jaw ant has been found to exhibit a previously unseen jumping behavior, using its legs rather than its powerful jaws. The discovery makes this species, Odontomachus rixosus, the only species of ant that ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.