Friday, February 16, 2018

Ever Bucket Train a Calf?

Many calf feeders use buckets rather than bottles to feed milk to young dairy calves. All of us who have bucket trained calves know that it is a labor-intensive procedure.

This study of 1,235 calves observed the bucket training process.

They found these rates of "Adoption" by the calves:
(percent drinking by themselves)
Day 2 = only 10%
Day 3 = up to 55%
Day 4 = up to 85% drinking by themselves
Day 5 = up to 92%

Now here is the tough part:

Day 6 = 92%
Day 7 = 92%
Day 8 = 92%

This is getting old - these "holdout" calves are breaking my back!

By day 14 this study still had a few calves that were still requiring some kind of assistance. 

Remember, however, by day 8-14 we could easily have calves that have been drinking by themselves  that now have health issues., maybe a little dehydrated. You know, they are alert, lying on their belly but need encouragement to get up to drink and then need me to fuss with them to finish their milk meal.

Maybe it is not realistic to expect 100% of the calves in the first three weeks of age to dive into their milk bucket and lick it clean.

Reference: Mandel, D. and Others, "Predictors of time to dairy calf bucket training." Journal of Dairy Science 100:9769-9774 December 2017.

Friday, February 9, 2018

Jim Dickrell's Case Study on Calves

Jim Dickrell, Editor Emeritus at Dairy Herd Management magazine, has this fantastic 2-page case study of a calf enterprise.
It is HERE.

The dairy has about 600 replacement animals. Jim's case study report is divided into these parts:
  • Step One: Nursery Barn
  • Step Two: Weaning Barn
  • Step Three: Grower Barn
It is a quick read full of possible ideas for a successful calf enterprise. 

Enjoy.

Friday, February 2, 2018

Consistency Matters!

"Consistency Matters" is the title of the February issue of the calf management newsletter.

 In brief:
  • Consistency promotes better health and growth.
  • Calf care people are the base for consistent care.
  • Consistent time, especially for feeding.
  • Consistent feeding, especially temperature, volume and solids level.
  • See the Calf Care Consistency Checklist HERE.
The letter is HERE.
Or, paste this URL http://atticacows.com/library/newsletters/February2018New020118.pdf 

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Drying Off a Calf
Link fixed

Thanks to folks that send me an e-mail that the link in the Drying Off a Calf post was not working.

As of 1:45 pm on Tues Jan 30 it should be fixed. If all else fails use this URL

http://atticacows.com/library/newsletters/DryingoffaCalfR17170.pdf

Thanks for your patience. 

Sam
Brix for Milk Replacer Solids?
Questions about Accuracy with MR

In this article posted online on January 29 in Progressive Dairyman
click HERE
Dr. Vermeire presents findings that suggest significant bias when  using a Brix refractometer to estimate solids content of milk replacer.

He notes that variations in protein sources as well as in added fats from batch to batch of milk replacer can lead to unpredictable solids values.

His advice is to be sure to have a really good mixing protocol - especially measuring the milk replacaer powder accurately - he suggests weighing when mixing in volumes other than whole bags.

I will watch carefully in the next few months to see if additional data become available to support those presented by Dr. Vermeire.

By the way, the author makes a point to assure us that this technology, Brix refractometer, continues to be a reliable method of estimating solids in both colostrum and whole milk.

Monday, January 29, 2018

How high can bacteria counts get in colostrum?

I came across a study that included analyzing the colostrum samples for total bacteria counts and coliform bacteria counts.

They did a series of dilutions in order to get reasonable estimates of very high numbers.

What were the highest counts?

total plate count - highest value 400,000,000 cfu/ml

coliform count - highest values 170,000,000 cfu/ml

Do you suppose with these bacteria counts the colostrum was a thick as yogurt?

Reference: Mandel, C. and Others, "Predictors of time to dairy calf bucket training." Journal of Dairy Science 100:9769-9774 December 2017.

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Comparison of Colostrum Replacer and Maternal Colostrum: Jersey  & JerseyXHolstein Calves.

"The objective of this study was to determine the effect of feeding a commercially available colostrum replacer versus pooled maternal colostrum on immunological status, growth and health in preweaned calves." (p1345)

Bottom Line - colostrum replacer works if you don't have clean maternal colostrum to feed.

Colostrum management - all the calves (N=1215) were fed at least 150g of IgG within 1 hour of birth. And both the colostrum replacer and maternal colostrum had either no or very very low bacteria counts. 

Note here that these calves were only fed colostrum once. And they were limited to only 150g of IgG. I recommend to my clients to include 200g IgG first feeding and to consider a second feeding 6 to 12 hours after the first feeding of another 100-200g IgG. So, consider these calves as getting the "basic" volume of IgG. 

Efficiency of absorption of antibodies - GREAT! If you feed enough high quality colostrum (or replacer) within an hour after birth the body does a good job of moving antibodies from the gut into the blood. Both colostrum and replacer had efficiency rates in the range of 34 to 36%. Those are good numbers.

Total protein values? Both averaged above 5.0.  Colostrum replacer average value was 5.2 and maternal colostrum average value was 5.8. These are good numbers considering that IgG intake was limited to only 150g IgG. 

Calf Growth  The calves were limited to only 4 quarts of non-salable milk per day. The growth rates were 0.7#/day for colostrum replacer calves and 0.8#/day for maternal colostrum calves. These calves with a limited supply of nutrients from milk increased their weight from birth to weaning by 62% for colostrum replacer and 65% for maternal colostrum.

Note here as an industry growth standard I  have adopted the national Dairy Calf & Heifer Association goal of doubling birth weight in 8 weeks. My clients that feed 2 pounds of milk replacer powder or 4 gallons of whole milk daily routinely average 1.7#/day gain at 56 days. 

Health Including diarrhea, respiratory disease and fever there were no differences between colostrum replacer and maternal colostrum calves. 

Mortality - The national standard from the Dairy Calf & Heifer Association for mortality under 8 weeks is less than 5%. Maternal-colostrum treatment calves had a 7.1% death rate while the colostrum-replacer treatment calves had a death rate of 9.4%. We can only guess that there were stressful circumstances (for example, weather, hygiene) that resulted in these elevated mortality rates.  

Reference: Lago, A. and Others, "Efficacy of colostrum replacer versus maternal colostrum on immulogical status, health and growth of preweaned calves." Journal of Dairy Science 101:1344-1354 February 2018.