Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Do You Need to Monitor Bacteria Levels for Your
Automatic Milk Feeder?


Well, I know you expect to have the post contain more than one word.

In recently reported research  these were only the coliform bacteria counts, not the total bacteria counts.

Location of sample                       Median (cfu/ml)  Lowest    Highest
                                                         [coliform counts, colony forming units per milliliter (cfu/ml)]

Exit from mixing vessel into the         336                   0        25,621,330
feeder tube

End of feeder tube at the nipple      10,430                45        28,517,000

For my clients we use the goal of no greater than 1,000cfu/ml coliforms in milk/milk replacer. That means among study farms most of them failed to keep their equipment clean enough to deliver wholesome un-contaminated milk to their calves. Is it surprising that 54% of the calves in the study require treatment for scours?

Look just at the median values, 336 coming out of the mixing vessel going into the feeder tube and 10,430 coming out of the feeding tube into the nipple. I consider this 3,000% increase pretty good evidence that changing those tubes regularly and often could be one way to lower this contamination rate. Clearly, it is possible to screw up keeping feeding equipment clean.

Look at the variation between the "cleanest" (lowest) and "most contaminated" (highest) dairies. Where would you want to be a calf?  On the dairy with 45cfu or the dairy with 28 million cfu/ml coliforms in milk?

(Jorgensen, M.W. and Others, "Mortality and health treatment rates of dairy calves in automated milk feeder systems in the Upper Midwest of the United States." Journal of Dairy Science, 100:9186-9193)

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