Read the Progressive Dairy Canada digital edition

Manure handling in the barn: A way to control SCC

Paola Luparia Published on 21 March 2013

Manure handling in the barn is really important for barn and herd management:

Dairy cows that are clean and comfortable may profit more from their genetic potential and be less easily hit by environmental pathogens such as heel warts and mastitis.



Those are great advantages for farmers from a management and economical point of view, especially in a world where costs, such as feeding and fuel, are constantly rising.

Manure handling starts with the hygiene of loose yards, bedding packs, stalls and walking areas. All those parts of the barn are usually highly contaminated by fecal material coming directly from the animals.

This is the price the farmer has to pay when animals are housed indoors, even though animals that are outside on pasture may also be really dirty or hit by environmental diseases.

In both cases, the management of these spaces is highly important in order to obtain high-standard production and performance in productivity and fertility rates.

Notwithstanding the fact that all dairy herds have their precise cleaning procedures in order to keep animals clean and safe, many of them still have issues on the most important anatomical parts of the cow, the ones that are a warranty of safety and health: feet, udders and the genital tract.


Why does that happen too often in dairy herds worldwide? Because of the nature of manure: Being very rich in organic matter, it creates a perfect “house” for bugs that are pathogenic both for humans and animals.

The richness of organic matter in manure can be an advantage and a disadvantage for farmers. In terms of barn hygiene and disinfection, it is a huge problem, as using a disinfectant on a dirty surface is like putting alcohol on a wound that has not been washed: completely senseless.

The senselessness of this action depends on the nature of disinfectants. They are specifically designed to act against what is alive and on clean surfaces, so they can attack in different ways (depending on the molecule) the external structure of the bacterial cell and destroy it.

Disinfection works very well on clean surfaces (very clean surfaces), but if even one bug cell is missed by the treatment, in a very little time there will be another population of pathogens exactly where a farmer thought his animals would be safe.

This is exactly what happens with teat contamination in the milking parlour and, of course, for a much longer period of time inside the barn, for the 12 hours an animal should rest during a normal day.

Pathogenic bugs depend on water and organic matter as a source of simple sugars and protein residues in order to reproduce themselves.


They can find those exact conditions in the teat, which is why pathogens aim to enter the teat channel and then reproduce themselves in the udder. Temperature, water and richness in organic matter make the udder a perfect environment.

Even though contamination’s most important hazard is the environmental mastitis due to E. coli, Klebsiella, coliforms and environmental streptococci, it can mislead a diagnosis of contagious pathogens in the barn such as Staph. aureus.

The contamination itself can increase the SCC of a herd and drop the quality of milk and its economic value for the farmer.

Avoiding teat contamination and new cases of mastitis has been the main point of research for SOP in recent years.

Through experiments done by well-known universities worldwide in the field of dairy science (among them Cornell University and the University of Guelph), we have been looking forward to reaching better results in the control of pathogens responsible for mastitis and somatic cells control.

Our latest publication that was presented last July at ADSA & CDSA (American Dairy Science Association & Canadian Dairy Science Association) in Phoenix, Arizona, showed a biohygienizing product added to feed was able to decrease SCC 50 percent in an in-field test in one of the most challenging periods of the year, spring and summer.

As manure goes to the fields, the farmer needs it to be rich in value and in the component of humus, a natural compound that can usually be found in the woods from decaying leaves.

Its characteristics are amazing: It acts like a sponge, so water will not be available any more for bugs, and it will help keep animals clean and dry. Once it is underneath the animals, it creates an environment no more favourable for the pathogens arriving directly from the inner part of the cows.

In the fields, humus helps keep moisture near the roots and in the most superficial layer of the soil, so it helps seeds to germinate and plants to grow in their early stages of development.

Humus enriches the soil and keeps nutrients from being washed away from the rain, especially in those years when rain is concentrated only in some periods. Keeping moisture near the roots, it helps plants in their development even in dry and hot periods.

The way to obtain all the different advantages of humus and hygiene is to shape bacterial life in a way that is helping the farmer in dairy herd management.

Working with bugs with a technology that can decrease the growth of pathogenic bacteria and increase the population of the saprophytes, bugs and fungi that are part of the humifying complex is a way that could lead to success.

Frequential nanotechnology is a way to make useful bugs work for the farmer both inside and outside of the barn.  PD

For more information on biohygienizing products, contact Canadian distributor GenerVations  or call (905) 873-8700.