Cleaning and Sanitizing on a Beef Farm

Consider this scenario:

  • Small beef cattle feedlot
  • Partially covered/open housing
  • Bunks for feeding silage/grains
  • Watering bowls

Common Food Safety Risks for this scenario:

The biological risks for this type of production system are pathogens in the digestive tracts and on the hides of market beef cattle (e.g. E. coli or Salmonella) which can cross-contaminate to carcass and meat during the slaughter process.

The chemical risks are residues in the meat of marketed beef cattle resulting from animal health products and other chemicals present on the farm.

The physical risk is broken needles found in meat. Broken needles are not addressed in cleaning and sanitizing therefore need not be considered as part of the answer.

How Good Agricultural Practices can help:

The following list will help to identify areas and equipment to be cleaned and sanitized that are critical in an on-farm food safety program and suggest practices to reduce risk.

If you use feed bunks and water bowls/tanks, a biological risk can be associated with contaminated feed and water sources.

You should:

  • Regularly drain and rinse water bowls/tanks to reduce contamination from bird droppings and manure from other animals
  • Regularly remove excess or leftover feed to reduce contamination from the droppings of birds and wildlife. Feed only enough feed to be consumed in a short period.

If you have livestock housing areas that are wet and accumulate manure, a biological risk can occur.

You should:

  • Keep housing areas dry. Wet bedding allows tag to accumulate on livestock hides. This increases the probability of cross-contamination from hide to meat during the slaughter process.
  • Have a written practice stating that manure from housing areas is removed when the area becomes excessively damp and is replaced with clean, dry bedding materials.

If you re-use medical equipment (e.g. needles and syringes, implanting guns, calving equipment, medicated feed mixing equipment), a chemical risk can arise if medical equipment is not cleaned properly.

You should:

  • Develop a written practice to describe how medical equipment should be cleaned e.g. soap used followed by a disinfectant
  • Keep in mind for some antimicrobials only hot or warm water should be used
  • Clean medicated feed mixing equipment using a technique called "sequencing". Sequencing is processing non-medicated feedstuffs through equipment to pick up medication residues.

If you store hazardous chemicals on the farm, chemical risks can arise.

You should:

  • Clean up hazardous spills immediately
  • Clean areas when changing products in a location to prevent any cross-contamination.

If you feed and/or store medicated feeds on your farm, chemical risks can arise.

You should:

  • Ensure storage areas are cleaned when changing between non-medicated and medicated feeds or another type of medicated feed. The risk is cross-contaminating medication residues into animal diets with the potential to leave unacceptable residues in the meat of slaughter animals.
  • Have a written cleaning practice that describes how surfaces should be cleaned to remove residues (e.g. washing with soap). If the storage area surfaces are wood, washing is probably not practical. Therefore avoid interchanging feed storage areas and do not store medicated feed in areas with rough wood surfaces.

If you use vehicles to transport livestock, chemical or biological risks can occur when transportation vehicles are not cleaned and adequately bedded.

You should:

  • Keep in mind that previous loads containing livestock can result in the introduction of diseases and cross-contamination to hides of animals being sent to slaughter.
  • Keep in mind that chemical residues can result from previous transport of fertilizers or pesticides.
  • Develop written cleaning and sanitizing practices if the vehicles are farm-owned. If not farm-owned, develop a policy stating that vehicles must be clean before arriving at the farm.
  • Ensure vehicles are cleaned and sanitized between loads of livestock. This is accomplished by first power washing with soap and water followed by a rinse of disinfecting solution. Ensure wash water does not drain into livestock housing areas.

For more information:
Toll Free: 1-877-424-1300

Author: OMAFRA Staff
Creation Date: 15 March 2009
Last Reviewed: 15 June 2011