Teat spray on teats

Dictionaries variously describe the meaning of the word “residue” as being a “remnant”, or “something which remains after a part is removed”.

Prior to July 1945, no human had radioactive residues due to nuclear weapons.

However, the situation now is dramatically different - every human on earth has some level of residue in their body from the fallout of nuclear weapons.

There are many different types of residues that can affect humans. Some residues are removed from the human body with time; others are never removed and can slowly accumulate over time with each added exposure.

Residues can be especially pesky for food producing industries, as sometimes the situation with regard to any particular residue can change rapidly in the marketplace.

In the not too distant future, all dairy farms in Australia will need to review their current teat disinfection program, as milk processors move to meet changing market requirements with regard to residues.

In particular, teat disinfectants that contain Nonylphenol Ethoxylates (NPE’s) will be disallowed by a number of processors, with some taking effect from July 1st this year.

Market requirements for some dairy products have changed with respect to NPE residues, meaning the use of these products cannot continue if processors wish to keep trading in these markets.

As these can be higher value markets, and given the current conditions in the industry, it is obviously in our best interests to maintain as many markets as possible for our products!

NPE’s have been included in many teat disinfectants as a surfactant, but not all current products have NPE’s in them. So whilst there are some products already on the market that are NPE free, no doubt most manufacturers of teat disinfectants will move as quickly as possible to have products available in their range that do not contain NPE’s and will comply with supply agreements.

So, what will farms need to do?

If you have not already been notified by your processor, you should check with them (probably via your factory field officer) what the situation is regarding NPE’s in teat disinfectants, and if changes are required, when will that change begin to apply.

Ask your processor for an up-to-date list of the products that do not contain NPE’s and which comply with your supply agreement.

As the number of NPE free products is somewhat limited at the moment, depending on the products that are available from your chemical suppliers and in your region, you may be presented with a number of alternatives to choose from.

If the product you are currently using is on the list of NPE free products, no change will be necessary.

TeatSprayIf there is a direct replacement with a similar product, e.g. an NPE free iodine product to replace your current iodine product, the choice is easy.

However, you may also have the choice of an alternative product that is different to your current one, e.g. perhaps an NPE free chlorhexidine product might be suggested to replace a non-compliant iodine product.

Perhaps a difference in the cost of replacement products may also cause you to consider alternatives.

In making your decisions, the key factors to consider will be efficacy, risk, and cost.

In common sense practical terms on the farm, there is little difference in the ability of iodine and chlorhexidine products to disinfect teat skin – they both do a very good job!

Possibly the main difference in the practical application to teats is the ability to see how well teats are being covered with disinfectant; iodine products are generally easier to see on teat skin than most chlorhexidine products.

Perhaps the main risk of change in efficacy would be if you moved from away from a Ready-to-Use (RTU) product to a product that is mixed on the farm.

The beauty of RTU products is that they remove the relatively high risk of less than ideal water quality or inaccurate mixing affecting the efficacy of the final product.

Given that post-milking teat disinfection is quite simply the most important mastitis control measure in the dairy, would you really want to risk a reduction in efficacy?

Wouldn’t you want the best possible efficacy, albeit at the best possible price?

If you find that you are unsure of the best choices, speak to your factory field officers, your vet and your mastitis advisers – an informed decision is always a better decision.

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