Monday, January 20, 2014

Yet another milk replacer mixing screw up
Sorry about being away for so long. Two weeks of family celebrations over the holidays combined with the last two weeks of federal income tax training to be a volunteer tax preparer at senior centers took all my energy.
Had a great phone call today. Calves dying. Calves with pneumonia that do not respond to antibiotic treatment. Posted a dead calf - could not find one particle of fat anywhere on the poor little creature's body.
So, the farm vet goes into the milk house and has the calf care person mix up a batch of milk replacer. Warm water into pail up to the 5-gallon mark. Two coffee cans of powder added. Mix with a piece of lathe.
Two coffee cans of powder when weighed on a scale turned out to be 63-64 ounces or about 4 pounds. When mixed up the bucket contained approximately 5.5 gallons of m.r. mix or about 47-48 pounds.  Hmmmm.
So, he had just under 48 pounds of mix (47.3) and he used 4 pounds of powder. 
What do you get when you divide 4 by 48? Yes, .08 or 8 percent dry matter.
These calves received 2 quarts of this mix twice a day. Okay, 4 quarts per day = 8.6 pounds of m.r. mix per day times 8% turns out to be 0.7# or 11 ounces of m.r. powder daily.
11 ounces a day? A calf will starve on that little. Yes, you are correct. That was what was the problem here.
1. Start using three instead of two cans of powder for each 5-gallon bucket of mix.
2. Change the mix routine: 1/2 full of water, add powder, mix, fill to the 5-gallon mark.
[Now we are using 96 ounces (6 pounds) of powder and we end up with only 5 gallons of mix (43 pounds).   Instead of the thin 8% mix we are now feeding a 14% mix.
3. Continue to feed 2 quarts twice daily. [Now calves receive 1.2# daily rather than 0.7#.]
4. Start drawing blood on calves on day 2 to monitor immunity - farm has no history these data - we want to see 90% at 5.0 and higher and 75% at 5.5 and higher before we start pushing more powder per day.
5. Collect 15ml samples of "as-fed" colostrum for all calves for a week. We will culture these to monitor bacteria contamination levels. Before we start feeding more powder we want to see all of these below 5,000 cfu/ml coliforms and 50,000 cfu/ml total bacteria.
6. Collect 15ml samples of "as-fed" milk replacer for every feeding for a week. Same purpose - monitor cleanliness of feeding procedures. 
I will call back in a couple of weeks to see what is happening. With a recent upsurge in calf mortality (over  20%) this is the right time to make some changes - motivation is really high and the changes of highly visible success are great. 
Have a great day.

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