Monday, February 18, 2013

Our Friend, Cryptosporidia

In a Swedish study involving 26 herds (13 organic and 13 conventional), 259 cows and 221 calves researchers collected fecal samples to determine the presence of cryptosporidia.

Approximately one-half of the calves regardless of organic/conventional status had infections severe enough so that the calves were shedding oocysts in their feces. 

Variation among herds suggested these factors influencing rate of infection among calves:
  • age of the calf - one to three week-old calves are most likely to be shedding crypto compared to older calves.
  • calves with cleaner bedding are less likely to be shedding compared to calves with soiled bedding. 
  • farmers' attitudes toward biosecurity - this factor should not come as a big surprise to any of us since these attitudes are the basis for reducing exposure to cyrptosporidia oocysts.
Remember these tips for reducing the frequency and intensity of crypto infections among our heifer calves:
  • Calve in clean surroundings.
  • Once the calf stands up, get her away from adult animals including the dam.
  • As soon as practical after birth feed plenty of clean high quality colostrum.
  • House her in as clean environment as practical whether in individual or group pens. 
  • Provide plenty of clean wholesome milk/milk replacer.
This note by Dr. Geof Smith of NC State may be helpful when thinking about managing cryptosporidiosis:
Hoards' Dairyman article

For a quick picture of how common this infection is in the US (from 20 years ago but still probably pretty accurate) click here:
Crypto Overview USA

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