Friday, April 29, 2016

Research Supports "Milk & Feed" for Colostrum

Two studies support the practice of "milk & feed" for colostrum management.

The "milk & feed" practice? Collect colostrum from the dam as soon as practical (less than an hour), check for quality and immediately feed to the newborn calf.

The research examined the consequences for feeding freshly collected colostrum compared to colostrum that had been stored and the white blood cells are not longer viable. To be sure no colostrum immune cells were present for their research they froze and thawed the colostrum - thus all the white blood cells were destroyed. 

The colostrum immune cells were "adoptively" transferred into the blood by the same process that antibodies are passively transferred. That's why the emphasis on feeding the calf within the first one or two hours after birth.

So, given that the colostrum is collected soon after calving, it is high enough in antibody concentration for first feeding and the calf is fed within an hour or two after birth, what advantages did they find between using the two different kinds of colostrum? 

Remember, the whole colostrum and the immune-cell-free colostrum had the same antibody content. 

First, they reinforced the previously known fact that colostral immune cells adoptively transfer - they go from the colostrum into the blood. 

Second,, these immune cells improve immunity during the first month of life - these comparisons were between feeding freshly collected colostrum and "cell-free" colostrum. On farm this difference would be between two management systems (1) milk & feed and (2) milk, store and feed.

Third, up to 6 to 10 months post colostrum feeding, feeding whole colostrum versus cell-free colostrum resulted in a greater vaccination response. 

Management take-home message:
When colostrum is frozen and thawed all the immune cells are destroyed. When colostrum is stored the active immune cell population drops rapidly. Some estimates suggest the level drops to one-half within less than one day. Other estimates set the level of immune cells in refrigerated colostrum at close to zero by two days. Only freshly collected colostrum contains the optimum level of the immune cells.

 The bottom line for getting a high level of adoptively transferred immune cells is to milk & feed.  

[S.N.Langel and Others, "Effect of feeding whole compared with cell-free colostrum on calf immune status: the neonatal period." Journal of Dairy Science 98:3729-3740 2015 S.N.Langel and Others, "Effect of feeding  whole compared with cell-free colostrum on calf immune status: vaccination response." Journal of Dairy Science 99:3979-3994. 2016]

Monday, April 25, 2016

Consequences of Early Pneumonia

All the consequences are bad.

In his presentation at the 2016 Dairy Calf and Heifer Association conference in Madison, Wisconsin, on April 13th, Dr. Michael Overton presented numbers for this association between pneumonia early in a calf's life and her subsequent performance. [M. W. Overton, "Importance of Producing a Quality Dairy Replacement  Heifer". Proceedings of DCHA,  2016, pp 55-59]

There were 3043 heifers included from two herds - one in California and one from the upper mid-western US. The treatment rate for pneumonia within the first 70 days on the two dairies was 13 percent. 

Here are the numbers associated with one pneumonia event within the first 70 days of age:
  • Lower body weight at three months - average weight for pneumonia heifers compared to those that were not treated was 12.7 pounds (5.8kg) less. Overall average weight for all heifers at three months was 227 pounds (103kg)
  • Lower daily rate of gain for first three months of life - average rate of gain per day for pneumonia heifers compared to those that were not treated was 0.14 pounds (64g) less. Overall daily rate of gain for all heifers measured at three months was 1.56 pounds (708g).
  • Heifers that experienced early pneumonia were 2.8 times more likely to be culled compared to those that did not.
  • Early pneumonia was associated with 649 pounds (294kg) less 305me milk. 
These are the consequences of ONE pneumonia event for these young heifers. I don't want to even think about the heifers that we have to treat two or more times.

Overton commented that in some of his previous analyses the impact of early pneumonia on early growth and culling was greater than on these two study dairies. 

Friday, April 8, 2016

Extended Weaning for Intensively Milk Fed Calves

The April, 2016, calf management newsletter is now available online at in the Calving Ease section or just click HERE.

The main points are:

  • Doubling birth weight by 56 days of age is a common goal for intensively milk fed calves
  • High milk feeding rates depress calf starter grain (concentrate) intakes, especially among calves less than five weeks old.
  • Our weaning goals need to include adequate rumen development for efficient digestion of solid feeds and absorption of nutrients from fermentation.
  • Ten to fourteen-day long step-down weaning programs may be needed to transition intensively milk fed calves successfully from milk to solid feed. 


Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Too Many Sick Calves? Consider the piBVD Calf!

The March issue of the calf management newsletter is now on line HERE.

The content is:
·        How is a persistently-infected BVD (piBVD) calf created?
·        How can a piBVD calf be a herd problem?
·        How can we find a piBVD calf if we suspect one is present?
·        What can we do to prevent having a piBVD animal in the herd?