Friday, November 15, 2019

All Colostrum is Not the Same

Recently published work (A. Soufieri and Others, "Genetic parameters of colostrum traits in Holstein dairy cows." Journal of Dairy Science, 102:11225-11232, 2019) collected colostrum samples from 1,047 healthy Holstein dairy cows. 

The  yield was recorded as well as Brix values obtained from each cow's first milking. Laboratory analysis determined  both fat and protein content.

Yield The median yield was 5kg (about 6.3 quarts). The lowest yield was less than 1 quart while the highest yield was nearly 11 quarts (23.5kg).

Brix values  The median Brix was 25.9. The lowest Brix was 10.7 and the highest Brix was 41.4.

Fat percentage  The median fat was 6%. The lowest fat was less than 0.1% while the highest fat percentage was 18.2%.

Protein percentage  The median protein was 17.9%. The lowest protein was 4.8% while the highest protein percentage was 30.4%.

Conclusion? All colostrum is not the same. Keep using your Brix refractometer to sort colostrum before using for first feeding.

Thursday, November 7, 2019

The "When" for Oral Electrolytes
November 2019 Calf Management Newsletter

The main points in the letter:
·        Electrolytes are only helpful if the calf drinks them.
·        The most important ingredient in an oral electrolyte feeding is water.
·        As soon as a calf’s manure will no longer stay on top of her bedding she may be losing more fluid than she is consuming – it is electrolyte time!
·        What other criteria make sense when deciding which calves receive electrolyte feedings?
·        How does electrolyte feeding fit into the daily routine?
·        Calves should still have access to free-choice water when receiving oral electrolytes and we should continue our regular milk feeding protocol.

The link to the letter is HERE or use this URL

Monday, November 4, 2019

Advice on managing abomasal bloat

In a recent webinar sponsored by the Dairy Calf and Heifer Association Dr. Brian Miller made several practical suggestions for managing abomasal bloat.

The webinar summary prepared by Hoard's Dairyman is entitiled "Calf Feeding Consistency is Key." I think you will find Dr. Miller's suggestions both practical and possible to implement. 

Dr, Miller summarizes his advice:
Once you have the right milk to deliver, ensuring consistent feeding can make all the difference in preventing bacteria and fermentation enzymes from running rampant on the calf’s stomach.

The link to the summary is


Monday, October 28, 2019

"How to Improve Your Colostrum Management"

This is the title of a short article in Farm&Dairy by Jason Hartschuh that summarizes a number of basic points on colostrum management.

It is worth a quick scan to see if you may be missing a key point - a best management practice.

Here is the link

Very basic stuff but solid management. 

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Nice Two-Page Summary on
Cold Weather Calf Care

While on a calf care Internet search I came across this short two-page summary of cold weather calf care by Ryan Breuer, DVM, Iowa State Dairy Specialist.

While none of the items Dr. Breuer mentions are new and earth-shaking, they are a good reminder of our options in doing a "bang-up" job of cold weather care as we are about to move into winter weather. 


Here is the link:

Thursday, October 17, 2019

More on Calf Starter Grain Intake

This short article by Maureen Hanson summarizes work by Dr. Dale Moore on calf starter intake.

The key points dealing with grain intake:
  1. Different levels of liquid feeds
  2. Disease
  3. Water availability
  4. Starter grain texture, formulation, freshness
  5. Calf housing, weather management
Also, you will find a link to an interesting online publication "How Much Starter Grain Should a Preweaned Dairy Calf be Eating," by Dr. Moore and Others.

Friday, October 11, 2019

Keeping Milk Feeding Equipment is Not
Really That Hard! Is It?

As part of a study about colostrum feeding a research group in Ireland collected information on cleaning feeding equipment from seasonally calving dairy herds.

Preferred METHOD of cleaning:
Method                         Near beginning of        Near end of
                                        12 wk calving           12 wk calving season
Hot Water Only              41%                             26%
Cold Water Only            35%                             40%
Cold water + detergent   11%                             11%
Hot water + detergent  13%                             24%

Note: Only acceptable method is hot water with detergent when cleaning milk feeding equipment. 

Did you get this? Only 13 percent of operations were using effective methods to clean milk/colostrum feeding equipment - at start of 12 week calving season.

Frequency of cleaning
                                      Near beginning of    Near end of
                                      12 wk calving          12 wk calving season
Daily                                21%                        11%
Every second day            47%                         53%
Once a week                    17%                         28%
Every second wk             13%                         4%
Once a month                   2%                          4%

Note: Only acceptable frequency is at least daily or more frequently as equipment is soiled.

I am not surprised that average mortality at 28 days was 6%. No data were presented on scours rates but we can guess that the rates were discouraging high.

Lots of opportunity here for improvement - anyone need a job advising Irish dairy farmers on sanitation practices?

Reference: Barry, J. and Others, "Associations between colostrum management, passive immunity, calf-related hygiene practices, and rates of mortality in preweaned dairy calves." Journal of Dairy Science 102:10266-10276 November 2019