Friday, May 25, 2018

Bacterial Regrowth and Sanitizing

None of  us create sterile equipment when we clean up from feeding colostrum, milk and milk replacer. Some bacteria remain on these surfaces. Regrowth is inevitable even when we try to suppress it with acid rinses and allowing equipment to air dry. 

In a recent article, "How to properly sanitize calf facilities," Drs. Ollivett and Sockett (Univ. Wisc.) comment on the need to sanitize calf equipment before using it to feed calves. 

"All colostrum and milk or milk replacer feeding equipment should be properly cleaned after use and sanitized not more than two hours prior to use." p73.

We all understand the part about "properly cleaned after use" - the most efficient way to minimize biofilms on buckets and bottles is to clean them ASAP after every single use. Click HERE for a practical on-farm 4-step cleaning protocol. 

What about their recommendation,
"and sanitized not more than two hours prior to use" [emphasis added]

Let's assume that we do a good job of brushing our bottles, nipples and tube feeder in a hot detergent solution, put them through an acid rinse and put them upside down on a rack to air dry until the next use - most likely to be more than two hours later.

How urgent is the need to sanitize them before the next use? 

Colostrum feeding - I felt pretty strongly about minimizing bacteria load for colostrum. I rinsed all my bottles, nipples and tube feeder with a strong bleach solution every single time before colostrum feeding.  No exceptions. All the evidence I have seen in the past decade or so emphasizes the need to feed clean colostrum.

Milk feeding - I was fairly lax about sanitizing bottles for milk-fed calves - the bottles were washed  after every use and put on a rack to drain and dry between feedings. At feeding time my nursing bottle nipples were carried in a 10-quart bucket filled with a strong bleach solution. We only bottle-fed calves until they could be bucket trained so there were not a lot of calves fed with bottles. Looking back it would not have been difficult to sanitize the few bottles - it just did not occur to me to do it. 

Milk feeding all calves with bottles - depending on the potential for bacterial regrowth many calf operations likely could benefit from a pre-use sanitizing rinse. This would depend on (1) how effective is the washing process, (2) is there an acid rinse to lower surface pH, and (3) do the bottles air dry between uses.

Milk feeding calves with buckets - buckets not washed between feedings is common - my calf consulting observations suggest that washing and sanitizing all the buckets is not going to happen when there are 100, 500 or 5,000 calves on milk. Nevertheless, where there are serious issues with scours among 7 to 14 day old calves I have seen cases where using a clean bucket (not sanitized) for every feeding for these youngest calves has led to a significant reduction in treatable scours.

I cannot recall a well-designed study that examined the hypothesis that sanitizing buckets before each milk feeding will improve calf health, feed efficiency and rate of growth among preweaned calves as compared to non-sanitized buckets.  I would really like to see an analysis that shows the extent that sanitation of all feeding equipment for all age calves has a positive cost effective value.

Refererence: T. Ollivett and Donald Sockett, " How to properly sanitize calf facilities." Progressive Dairyman, May 7, 2018, pp 73-74. 

Thursday, May 24, 2018

"Normal" time for navel cord detachment?

I have to admit that I have not paid much attention to when navel cords detach or fall off. However, an excessively short or long time for retention possibly could be a signal that something is wrong.

In a study about navel dips 67 Holstein heifer calves with unassisted births were observed (general health, umbilical infections, umbilical cord diameter) for about 22 days. 

What did they find regarding umbilical cord detachment?

Earliest detachment was between 12 and 13 days.

Latest detachment was between 20 and 22 days.

So, I am guessing we should start looking for cords to start falling off just short of two weeks and all of them to have fallen off just over three weeks of age. 

I occurs to me today that a cord missing in the range of 5 to 7 days should trigger an examination - maybe an abcess?

A cord that is still there at 4 weeks of age? On one hand I cannot recall one on a calf that old. On the other hand I guess that is possible - maybe cause to take a look at this "abnormal" situation. 

Reference: Fordyce, A. L. and Others, "The effect of novel antiseptic compounds on umbilical cord healing and incidence of infection in dairy calves." Journal of Dairy Science 101:"5444-5448

Monday, May 21, 2018

Electrolytes for dairy calves and Alkalizing Agents

In a summary Hoard's Dairyman article about calf electrolytes Geof Smith, D.V.M., recently discussed the role of alkalizing agents for raising blood pH.

He summarized the problem:
"The blood in virtually all calves with diarrhea becomes more acidic a the pH falls. This largely is responsible for the symptoms we see such as depression, loss of suckle reflect, inability to stand, and so forth."

In describing solutions to this problem he continued,
"Acetate, propionate, and bicarbonate are all considered alkalizing agents - meaning they work to raise the pH of the blood."

In his opinion, research shows considerable advantages to using acetate or propionate as alkalizing agents in calf electrolytes compared to bicarbonates.

He summarized by saying at the end of his comparison of three different agents,
"It is still critical that your oral electrolyte solution contain an alkalizing agent. ... Make sure the label of the oral electrolyte product you are using include either acetate or bicarbonate in the ingredient list."

A more general look at calf illness in this resource:
"What hits calves when ... Here's a look at the bacteria and viruses that affect our calves" by Robert Moeller, D.V. M.
Click Hoards Moeller or paste this URL in your browser

Reference: Geof Smith, "Choosing the right electrolyte." Hoard's Dairyman, April 10, 2018, p219

Friday, May 18, 2018

Buy a New Brush?

Buy a new brush? This one is not worn out yet!

In a recent calf management note, "How to properly sanitize calf facilities." Drs. Ollivett and Sockett (Univ. Wisconsin) commented on bottle, nipple and bucket brushes. 

"Bottle, nipple and bucket brushes should be hung for proper drying." This sure sounds like good advice. Bacterial regrowth is minimal on dry surfaces. 

I had a hanger mounted on the wall next to my wash sink that made it easy to do this. And, these brushes were right at hand when I needed them. 

"brushes should be ... replaced monthly or quarterly, depending on the frequency of  use." (p73)

"Depending on frequency of use" - Well, I had 100 calves on milk, I washed 50-70 feeding pails a day, all the bottles and nipples used to feed the youngest calves and colostrum, tube feeders, milk replacer mixing barrels, etc. I felt that my brushes got a lot of use every day. 

Nevertheless, I cannot recall  having a schedule to replace brushes. I must have replaced my brushes when they began to show signs of wear - maybe 2 or 3 times a year? 

We had a tendency of other dairy farm workers to stop by the calf barn to help themselves to my brushes when they needed one. Because of this I recall replacing "missing" brushes more often than getting new ones because the older ones were worn out.

However, as calf consultant I have seen some pretty well worn out brushes that really, really needed to be replaced. 

The main point I gleaned from Drs. Ollivett's and Sockett's note was that brushes are important.

Do you recall the second step in my washing equipment protocol? Click HERE for the whole protocol.

Use hot water. Add liquid detergent and bleach or a dry chlorinated detergent. Brush all surfaces. Scrub off remaining milk residue.  Keep water above 120° (49C) at all times.

Note the "Brush all surfaces" - scrubbing with a brush is the only way to get equipment clean when manual washing. 

Refererence: T. Ollivett and Donald Sockett, " How to properly sanitize calf facilities." Progressive Dairyman, May 7, 2018, pp 73-74. 

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Blood Sampling for Blood Serum Total Protein testing

"When it comes to on-farm calf management, the producer’s main goal is to have healthy, productive calves that will eventually become high-producing cows. To achieve this goal, certain techniques should be used on farm to ensure the calf can reach its full potential. In this issue of The Colostrum Counsel, producers can learn how to assess the quality of colostrum using a Brix refractometer, as well as how to blood sample young calves." I believe much of the content is from an Alta Genetic source.

SCCL publishes the "Colostrum Counsel" periodically - this issue contains picture guides for both refractometer use and blood sampling - very well done. 

Click HERE to go to the Colostrum Counsel publication.


Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Feeding Water to Calves

"Feeding Water to Calves" is the title of the May issue of the calf management newsletter. You may access this issue by clicking HERE or enter this URL in your browser

The key points are: 
  • Water as a nutrient comes in more than one form.
  • But, where does water go inside the calf?
  • Profitable rates of rumen development depend on water.
  • Tips for promoting water intake.

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Calves Absorbing Sodium from Electrolytes

In a summary article about calf electrolytes Geof Smith, D.V.M., recently outlined facts about sodium absorption in preweaned calves suffering from diarrhea. 

"The calf must be able to absorb the sodium that you provide. Even in calves that have diarrhea and intestinal damage, there are three major pathways for sodium absoption: glucose, volatile fatty acids (such as acetate or proprionate), and neutral amino acids (such as glycine)."

He points out that you can check your electrolyte label for glycine or acetate.

Of the three electrolytes we stock here at the vet clinic all three contain glycine and one contains both glycine and acetate.

An interesting article, "Keeping Ahead of Calf Diarrhea" by David Rhoda, D.V. M. is available by clicking Hoards-Rhoda or adding this URL to your browser 
Reference: Geof Smith, "Choosing the right electrolyte." Hoard's Dairyman, April 10, 2018, p219