Producers do a poor job of managing boot baths to stop pathogens from spreading amongst groups of pigs.

Boot baths are often contaminated with organic matter. Personnel commonly avoid stepping into boot baths, or they step through them without stopping to clean their boots.

Those were the findings of Sandra Amass, DVM, Purdue University, in a study of the effectiveness of farm biosecurity measures.

Purdue Research Amass evaluated several protocols and disinfectants: Cidex Formula 7, an aldehyde from Johnson & Johnson Medical Inc., Arlington, TX; Nolvasan Solution, a chlorhexidine from Fort Dodge Laboratories, Fort Dodge, IA; Clorox, a chlorine-releasing agent from the Clorox Co., Oakland, CA; Betadine Solution, an iodine-releasing solution from the Purdue Frederick Co., Norwalk, CT; 1 Stroke Environ, a phenol from Steris Corp., St. Louis, MO, and Roccal-D Plus, a quaternary ammonium product from Pharmacia & Upjohn, Kalamazoo, MI.

Her trials resulted in development of the following boot bath principles:

- Scrubbing visible manure from boots enhances removal of large numbers of bacteria. Simply walking through a boot bath will not reduce bacterial counts;

- Scrubbing visible manure off in a water bath is as effective as scrubbing manure off in a bath of disinfectants for reducing bacterial counts;

- Scrubbing off manure in a clean disinfectant boot bath (such as 1 Stroke Environ) reduces the bacterial count more than scrubbing boots in a contaminated boot bath; and

- Boots scrubbed free of manure and then soaked (with Roccal-D Plus) for five minutes or more meet the standard for disinfection.

Make sure boot bath stations have hoses and brushes to ease manure removal. Select disinfectants based on efficacy, cost, ease of use and environmental friendliness, she concludes.