Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Coccidiostats in Calf Starter Grain

In 2014 the National Animal Health Monitoring System completed a calf study involving 104 dairy operations in 13 states. This was an 18-month longitudinal study involving 2,545 heifer calves. Holstein calves made up 89% of the population. By herd size, the study included:
  • Small (30-99cows)            20%
  • Medium (100-499 cows)   32%
  • Large (500+ cows)            48%
They asked:
"Do you have a coccidiostat in your calf starter grain?'

50% of the dairies said, "No."
That meant that only about 1/3rd of the calves in the study were receiving a coccidiostat in their calf starter grain.

As I discussed this finding with the veterinarians in our practice they expressed a lot of skepticism about the validity of this finding. In their on-farm experience most dairymen were poorly informed about the presence or absence of coccidiostats in their calf starter grain. Nearly none of them, according to our vets practicing in western New York State (average size dairy in our practice is around 300 cows), had a clue which coccidiostat even if they were aware of its presence. 

What is my take on this?

A best management practice is to periodically find and read ingredients on the tag on your calf stater grain (or, if bulk, read the delivery slip with the ingredient list).

Be informed. Talk with your herd veterinarian. Get his/her opinion about the coccidiostat's effectiveness among young calves on your dairy. 

Reference:Urie, N.J. and Others, " Preweaned heifer management on US dairy operatons: Part 1. Descriptive characteristics of preweaned heifer raising practices." Journal of Dairy Science 101:9168-9184.October, 2018.

Other resources:

Coccida: Our Friend Just Keeps on Giving

No comments: