Friday, April 21, 2017

Hidden Cases of  Pneumonia

"On the average, for every calf with clinical pneumonia, we can expect almost two additional cases of subclinical pneumonia. In some situations, we have seen as many as six additional cases of subclinical pneumonia." page 68 "Why aren't my calves growing?" Dr. Theresa Olivett, School of Veterinary Medicine, Univ. Wisconsin writing in Progressive Dairyman, April 19, 2017.

What's the big deal about "subclinical" pneumonia - it's not bad enough to treat!

Dr. Olivett observes
"Sources of infection provides constant draw of metabolic energy by the immune system. ...Even calves with subclinical respiratory disease may suffer 0.1 pound a day decrease in average daily gain during the preweaning period." (p68)

Thus working with the herd veterinarian to describe disease patterns, protocols for early detection of pneumonia and effective treatment protocols is a cost effective approach to calf management. 


Thursday, April 20, 2017

Impact of Colostrum Fed During First Two Weeks of Life

The authors' summary:

"Based on the results of this and a previous study (Berge, et al., 2009), this dried-colostrum replacement product could be used as a supplement of the milk replacer diet to decrease the occurrence of disease and the associated need for antibiotic therapy in  pre-weaned calves irrespective of their status in the transfer of passive immunity." (p. 1386)

Sounds like a great way to keep calves healthy. BUT!

Before you run out to purchase a supply of dried-colostrum replacement product you need to be aware that the cost per day per calf of product used in the study was US$12. OOPS!

Subsequent studies need to examine lower feeding rates - will rates of 1/2, 1/3, 1/4, 1/10th give similar results at much lower costs? 

One effect that is not captured in the authors' summary was the difference between control and treatment calves in average daily gain during the first two weeks of life. The average gain for all calves was 1.5 pounds per day. Both groups of calves had one or more calves that grew very well (over 2 pounds/day) or very poorly (less than 0.1 pounds/day). 

However, the colostrum supplemented calves had much more uniform growth rates. This finding stimulated me to think back to when I had the opportunity to feed transition milk (2nd, 3rd,  & 4th milkings) to my calves. 

I collected this milk twice a day. Within an hour after collecting this milk it was fed to the youngest calves - I fed 2 quarts twice daily. At the time I was impressed by the health of these calves - very low rate of scours, virtually no pneumonia treatments. At that time I did not think to observe the degree of uniformity of growth among these calves.

Unfortunately, the dairy "improved" management of fresh cows by milking them in the production parlor rather than the special-needs parlor that I had been using. That was the end of collecting transition milk. That was the end of super-healthy young calves - we went back to feeding electrolytes to scouring calves.

Transition milk feeding can give positive results. But is it practical?

This research on colostrum supplementation makes me think about the benefits of collecting and feeding transition milk. Could a dairy come up with a cost-effective way to collect, handle and feed this valuable product?

Chamorro, M.F., and Others, "Evaluation of the effects of colostrum replacer supplementation of the milk replacer raiton on the occurrence of disease, antibiotic therapy, and performance of pre-weaned dairy calves." Journal of Dairy Science, 100:1378-1387 February, 2017

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Avoiding Passive Transfer Failure

The April 2017 calf management newsletter title is "Avoiding Passive Transfer Failure." To access the newsletter click HERE.

Key points include:
  • Don’t guess; use hard numbers. Use a minimum of blood samples from 12 calves; more samples give a better estimate of passive transfer rates.
  • Once the failure rate is established get hard numbers for critical control points: calf age at first feeding, quality and quantity of colostrum fed.
  • Write protocols, train calf care workers to follow protocols, monitor protocol compliance.
  • Test, test, test. Keep sampling blood until the passive transfer failure rate drops to the farm’s goal.
Read about one farm's success story:
This was in 2010. The first round of blood serum total protein results were: (for more on blood serum total protein see www.calffacts.com and select “Testing for Passive Transfer of Immunity”)
At 6.0 (5)                                24%     (number of calves tested)
Between 5.5-5.9 (5)                24%
Between 5.2-5.4 (1)                  5%
Between 4.5-5.1 (2)                29%
Between 4.0-4.4 (4)                28%

It took several years of persistent emphasis on colostrum collection, handling and feeding to achieve better passive transfer of immunity. These are the most recent (2017) results (same dairy as in 2010):

At 6.0 and higher (22)                        65%
Between 5.5 – 5.9 (10)           29%
Between 5.2 – 5.4 (2)               6%
Less than 5.2 (0)                       0%
One hundred percent at 5.2 and above – YES! WooHoo! Success is Sweet!


Monday, April 17, 2017

Helping Calves Beat the Heat

This is the title of a short, one page article in the Miner Institute Farm Report, April issue. 

Click HERE to go to the Report. This article is on page 4, "Helping Calves Beat the Heat." 

The article looks at the role of fat in preweaned calves rations during heat stress days. 

The summary:
1. "The results of this study indicate that calves did not benefit from being fed supplemental fat during the summer months. "

2. "Based on the results of this study, producers should consider feeding a lower fat milk replacer to maximize feed efficiency and lean growth in their calves during the summer months."

An interesting study.

If you are not already familiar with the W.H.Miner Institute in Chazy, NY you may want to visit their web site, whminer.org.

The Farm Report is found HERE. There is an archive section - access is at the bottom of the Farm Report page. 


Friday, April 14, 2017

Super short summary for 
Automated Milk Feeding Systems for Dairy Calves

This brief two-page summary includes:
1. Housing
2. Transition calves to AMF
3. Milk allowance
4. Management practices

Very, very condensed summary. Click HERE to find this resource.

For a 10-page discussion on the same topic by James and Others presented at the most recent Western Dairy Management conference go to this link: HERE

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Group Housing and Calf Autofeeder Systems

At the Western Dairy Management Conference, February 28-March 2, 2017 in Reno, NV, Dr. James, K. Machado and A. Dietrich presented a paper, "Group Housing Systems for Calves, Facilities, Equipment, Protocols and Personnel." 

Of special interest to me was the section "Computer controlled automatic calf feeding systems." There is a good section "General recommendations and features of calf autofeeder systems." 

In addition, there is a 9-point summary of risk factors for disease in autofeeder systems. 

If you have an interest in autofeeder management this is good resource.

This is the link - just click Here.

Enjoy.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Confusion over Colostrum Supplements and Colostrum Replacer

I made a presentation at the Central Ontario Agricultural Conference on March 4. The audience was not shy - they asked plenty of questions. 

Several of the questions related to colostrum supplements and replacers. More than one person in the audience tried to use the terms to mean the same thing. 

So, I went through the definitions:

Supplements provide just that, they only add antibodies.

Replacers provide the full range of colostrum content (antibodies, protein, fat, carbs, etc) possible in a processed product.

Besides, I added, replacers typically cost four to five times as much as supplements. 

Click HERE for a background page on supplements.

Click HERE for the one-page Colostrum Replacer Guidelines.

The experiences with these products among those in the audience included using a supplement when feeding colostrum from a heifer, using supplements during weather-stress times (i.e., winter). I told them how easy it is to check antibody concentration in colostrum using a Brix refractometer. Click HERE for resource on doing this.

We also talked about using a replacer when the colostrum supply was tight, and using replacer when the dam was suspected of a disease that could be transmitted through colostrum.

As I always do during a presentation, I urged the dairymen (and women) present to work with their herd veterinarian to collect "as-fed" colostrum samples for bacteria culturing. Click HERE for a protocol for collecting colostrum samples.