Monday, August 19, 2013

Preventing Scours rather than Treating Them
I know that I sound like a broken record playing the same several bars of music over and over and over and over and over again. I just picked up the lab results from a dairy in western New York. They have been dealing with nearly universal and persistent scours problems for months.
Finally overcoming substantial resistance at the farm to collecting "as-fed" colostrum samples their veterinarian got them to take six samples. We plated them on blood agar and MacConkey media Thursday AM and read the plates Saturday AM. This is what we found: 
Sample ID
Coliform bacteria (cfu/ml)
Total bacteria (cfu/ml)
Colostrum 8/5/13
TNTC (TNTC Staph species, TNTC Strep species, 40,000 coliforms, 5,000 gram pos bacillus)
Colostrum 8/5/13
TNTC (TNTC Staph species, TNTC Strep species, 2,000 yeast, 500 mold, 3,000 gram pos bacillus)
Colostrum 8/10/13
30,200 (20,000 Staph species, 5,000 Strep species, 3,100 coliforms, 100 E. coli, 2,000 gram pos bacillus)
Colostrum 8/10/13
14,000 (4,000 Staph species, 3,800 Strep species, 2,000 coliforms, 2,200 Klebsiella, 1,000 gram pos bacillus)
Colostrum 8/11/13
TNTC (TNTC Staph species, 38,000 coliforms, 600 Klebsiella, 500 yeast, 3,200 gram pos bacillus)
Colostrum 8/13/13
13, 700 (8,700 Staph species, 3,500 Strep species, 1,500 gram pos bacillus)

Remember, this was the first time this dairy had ever sampled colostrum to check for bacterial contamination. These results are very typical of what I see in circumstances like this; sometimes all of the samples have Too Numerous Too Count (TNTC) results.
Thresholds I used to interpret these results as acceptable for feeding newborn calves:
1. Coliforms - less than 5,000 cfu/ml
2. Total bacteria - less than 50,000 cfu/ml

Samples (red) #'s 1, 2 and 5 completely unacceptable for feeding.

Samples (black) #'s 3, 4 and 6 acceptable for feeding.

I hope this farm will start going down this checklist:

Points to check for

Reducing Coliform Counts in Colostrum

1.     Clean teats in the parlor

2.     Clean milker buckets including lids, valves and gaskets

3.     Clean pails and/or bottles into which to pour colostrum

4.     Covers for all milker buckets and pails (especially in a milking parlor)

5.     Prompt feeding of fresh colostrum (goal is to feed in less than one hour after collecting colostrum; sooner is better)

6.     Prompt cooling of colostrum before it goes into the refrigerator or freezer (goal is to get colostrum under 60 degrees in less than 30 minutes after it is collected; sooner is better. An ice water bath will work. Or, freezing water in plastic bottles that can be put into a pail at the ratio of 1 part ice to 4 parts colostrum will work also.)

7.     If freezing colostrum either use a commercial one-use container (for example, Perfect Udder bags) or one-gallon freezer-weight self-sealing plastic bags filled with one quart of colostrum.

8.     Clean containers for stored colostrum – one-use containers are preferred compared to ones that have to be washed and reused.

9.     Clean nursing bottles and nipples

10.                        Clean tube feeder including the esophageal tube

11.                        Prompt feeding of warmed-up colostrum (goal is to feed within 30 minutes after it is warmed to calf body temperature - 102°)
This same checklist properly formatted is HERE

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