We Still Need to Keep our Colostrum Clean
A study including 18 dairy herds in Quebec Province, Canada, measured bacteria in "as-fed" colostrum as well as assessing adequate passive transfer of immunity. There were 333 samples.
A total of 219 calves were bled to estimate the level of passive transfer of immunity. The median herd level of successful transfer of immunity was 70 percent (range of herds was from 41% to 1005).
Of the 333 colostrum samples that had standard plate counts completed (total bacteria, aerobic culture). The standard used was 100,000cfu/ml. Above this was considered failure.
The herd-level success (sample below 100,000cfu/ml) ranged from a low of 3 percent to a high of 75 percent. The median value was 38 percent. This tells us that a lot of highly contaminated colostrum was fed on these 18 farms.
These data reinforce the facts from a study in Quebec Province nearly ten years ago that had roughly the same results. Colostrum has not gotten cleaner in the past decade.
What can we do to be sure our colostrum meets at least this standard of cleanliness?
1. Sample and culture. We cannot manage what we do not measure.
2. If bacteria counts are above this threshold (100,000cfu/ml) there are specific steps we should consider to reduce both inoculation and growth. Click HERE to access this 8-point list).
3. Sample and culture some more.
Reference: Freycon, P. and Others, "A herd-level study of colostrum management and its association with success of passive transfer in newborn dairy calves." Proceedings of American Association of Bovine Practitioners, September, 15-17, 2016, Volume 49 , p147.