Iowa pasteurization survey A 2010 pasteurization survey of Iowa dairies by Iowa State Extension Dairy Specialist Jennifer Bentley showed that management and effective use of pasteurization can improve overall calf health.

Fourteen dairies were surveyed that fed an average peak number of 76 calves, and average weaning age on those dairies was 50 days. Half of the dairies had been pasteurizing waste milk for calves in the past four years, and then half for more than five years, with over 80 percent moderately or extremely satisfied with pasteurizing. Pasteurizers ranged from homemade tanks, bulk tanks and Dairy Tech pasteurizers. Calves were fed with individual bottles (20 percent), individual buckets (60 percent), bottles and buckets (~12 percent) automatic calf feeders (less than 10 percent). Over 90 percent indicated feeding temperature was 100–105°F and 86 percent fed twice per day. Feeding equipment was cleaned and disinfected between each feeding by about 80 percent of respondents.

Management issues reported by dairy producers included:

  •  Checking temperatures regularly.
  • Cleaning and sanitizing equipment regularly just like milking equipment.
  • Reviewing cleaning practices to prevent milk curdling.
  • Cooling and storing until ready to pasteurize, preventing souring from occurring so will calves will consume the milk offered.
  • General employee training.
  • Maintenance of the pasteurizer.

“Milk quality and nutrient management are areas of the pasteurization process that producers found to be very important”. Procedures and protocols that would likely improve milk quality that producers would like to work on include:

  • Using smaller equipment to allow for easier cleaning.
  • Cleaning milking equipment and transportation equipment more frequently.
  • Evaluating temperatures to assure proper function.
  • Sampling on a regular basis for bacteria counts and solids.
  • Keeping it stored at a cooler temperature.
  • Evaluating compatibility of automatic milk feeder with the use of pasteurized waste milk.       

Bentley offers this checklist veterinarians can use to help producers get the most out of pasteurizing waste milk for calves:

  • Routinely culture samples of pasteurized milk to monitor quality.
  • Sample milk at all steps of the pasteurization process:
       ●  Containers used to collect waste milk
       ●  Transportation equipment
       ●  Pre-pasteurization sample
       ●  Post-pasteurization sample
       ●  Sample at first calf fed
       ●  Sample at last calf fed
  • Keep a daily log of who prepared the milk and how long it reached the goal temperature, then correlate this to culture results.
  • Train all employees that will be using the pasteurizer to be sure they understand how to operate the unit and what the concepts of pasteurization are.
  • Conduct follow-up training and review for employees to reinforce procedures.
  • Know how to manually check the temperature of pasteurized milk to ensure proper temperatures are being met.
  • If calf death loss occurs, diagnose calf morbidities and mortalities.
  • Visit other operations successfully using on-farm waste milk pasteurization systems.

To see the full survey results, visit and click on “Iowa Pasteurization Survey 2010.”