Monday, January 7, 2013

Murphy's Law and Colostrum Bacteria Counts
If anything go wrong, it will!

I just finished an analysis of about 340 colostrum samples from 18 dairies that are under the management of one company.

It is hard to believe that there can be so much difference in bacteria counts in colostrum. At one end of the spectrum five of the dairies had really low counts all the way from teat end to "as-fed" going into the calves.

At the other end of the spectrum several dairies had bacteria counts over 100,000cfu/ml in all their samples. If anything can go wrong, it will!

The top issues? In order of frequency of occurrence they were:
#1 Contaminated milker buckets used to collect the colostrum.
#2 Colostrum not chilled rapidly enough once collected and before being frozen.
#3 Contaminated feeding equipment - bottles, tube feeders.
#4 Too long a delay from the time colostrum was thawed and warmed until it was fed.

Can you identify with any of these issues? You might want to consider training or retraining to get higher levels of compliance to your cleaning protocol.

If training or retraining is needed you may find this checklist helpful.

This list of calf management resources may be accessed at

1 comment:

Vanessa said...

Dear Sam, thank you for your regular posts about calf care, I very much like reading them. In Belgium, I'm convinced of the fact that the importance of the colostral bacteriological quality is severely underestimated!