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

Jul 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: Battling superbugs with gene-editing system

Provided by United States Department of Agriculture

not rated yet
add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Veterinary college develops vaccine for Johne's disease

Dec 08, 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 ...

Recommended for you

Battling superbugs with gene-editing system

7 hours ago

In recent years, new strains of bacteria have emerged that resist even the most powerful antibiotics. Each year, these superbugs, including drug-resistant forms of tuberculosis and staphylococcus, infect ...

Dwindling wind may tip predator-prey balance

Sep 19, 2014

Bent and tossed by the wind, a field of soybean plants presents a challenge for an Asian lady beetle on the hunt for aphids. But what if the air—and the soybeans—were still?

Environmental pollutants make worms susceptible to cold

Sep 19, 2014

Some pollutants are more harmful in a cold climate than in a hot, because they affect the temperature sensitivity of certain organisms. Now researchers from Danish universities have demonstrated how this ...

Research helps steer mites from bees

Sep 19, 2014

A Simon Fraser University chemistry professor has found a way to sway mites from their damaging effects on bees that care and feed the all-important queen bee.

User comments : 0