Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Checking for Cleaning via Luminometer

Interesting data from University of Guelph research team on the connection between luminometer readings and laboratory bacteria culture results are found in this report:
"Validation of commercial luminometry swabs for total bacteria and coliform counts in colostrum-feeding equipment." (Journal of Dairy Science, 100:9459-9465 October 2017).

Using the test equipment available to the general public (Hygiena luminometer and various test swabs) they conclude that the Aqua-Snap Total and Microshap Coliform swabs are an acceptable alternative to traditional bacteria counts to evaluate cleanliness of colostrum-feeding equipment. About 59% of their surfaces has bacteria counts of at least 100,000cfu/ml - so they had plenty of dirty surfaces to check.

Note that they used rinse samples (15ml sterile water rinsed the surfaces to be tested).

At our vet clinic we use the Ultra-Snap testing swaps (direct collection from dry surfaces with moistened swabs). The data below are from a commercial dairy June 2016-July2017. Note the up and down pattern at certain sample sites. Acceptable ATP values were selected by the dairy.

Sanitation Audit Data
Acceptable ATP values: Feeding equipment <100, Environment<250
Location Sample Site Swab Site 14-Jun 14-Sep 13-Oct 10-Nov 22-Dec 30-Jun 26-Jul
2016 2016 2016 2016 2016 2017 2017
Milk room milker bucket newer inside 1/3 down 48 46 56 6 10 7 80
milker bucket older inside 1/3 down 259 45 17 11 10 11 121
plastic lid underside, under gask. 741 5298 118 93 34 41 58
Utility room Tube feeder inside bottle 2" - refrig 33 10 0 66 77 20 & 6 2&7
(calving) Tube feeder (ss) inside tube - top 2" 11 1404 0 4 59 3592 1
Tube feeder (ss) inside tube - ball 2" 995 3458 0 60 0 340 44
Holding pen plastic side - 1 ft.up 443 1167 555 1150 548 577 389
Garage Past. Milk discharge inside hose 2 inches 0 9 1 3 44 115 19
Gator Trans. Tank inside top 21 101 0 0 0 7 6
Trans. Tank end of hose 2 422 5 0 2 10 156
Trans. Tank feeding hose outlet 2 0 2 0 0 3 19&95
Nursing bottle inside bottle 2 inches 83 3027 n/a n/a 0 n/a 131
Nursing nipple inside surface 7 7976 n/a n/a 1363 n/a 208
Hutches Fdg. Pail 1 wk.(new) inside 1/3 down 144 2719 41 623 1 Rain 179
Fdg. Pail 1 wk.(old) inside 1/3 down 76 1919 24 500 0 Rain 33
Fdg. Pail 4 wks. inside 1/3 down 91 1020 213 225 90 Rain 1159*
Hutch surface 1 wk inside across from fdr 26 5989 925 289 209 Rain 621
Kane Grain fdr. 1 wk. front edge tray 41 240 74 30 191 Rain n/a
Kane Grain fdr. 4 wks. front edge tray 132 1158 428 54 59 Rain 1458
Bold = Needs Improvement *second pail = 2347

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

4 Tips to jump start your winter calf feeding program

This short note by Tom Earleywine of Land 'O Lakes includes:
  1. Increase nutrition levels
  2. Transition to a seasonal milk replacer
  3. Keep starter fresh
  4. Avoid frozen buckets

This is the link, click HERE

or if the link doesn't work this is the URL

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Risk Assessment Checklist
[New for UK/Metric library]

The latest revision of the Risk Assessment Checklist is now posted at www.atticacows.com in the Resource section in the Calf Facts section. 

Click HERE to access the checklist.
Or paste the URL in the search window of your Internet browser: http://www.atticacows.com/library/newsletters/RiskAssessPreweanedCalvesChecklistUK99R17_1.pdf

The four sections are:
1. Calving area
2. Colostrum management
3. Housing
4. Nutrition

Friday, October 6, 2017

Caring for Calves Can Be Painful

This is the title of the October issue of the calf management newsletter. To go to the letter click HERE. If the link does not work here is the URL

The letter talks about calf care persons and their problems with painful backs and elbows. The outline is:

  • Chronic pain
  • Sources of stress
  • Can we reduce chronic back pain?
  • Lifting
  • Can we reduce elbow and shoulder pain?
  • Practical calf care examples we identified
Best wishes for finding a solution that works for you!

Thursday, October 5, 2017

"My advice for our future calf feeder"

What a great down-to-earth article by  Kelli Woodring, a dairy producer and calf care person from Pennsylvania, USA.

It is HERE or you can search for Progressive Dairyman, October 1, 2017 issue and find page 164,

Kelli has 9 very sound points to make for any and all calf care persons - a really fun read. Enjoy!

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Nursing Consumption of Colostrum

In a small sample (N=44) of Holstein calves with unassisted births the colostrum consumption was measured. Their average birth weight was 42.8kg [94lbs].

The dams were milked at  the next regular milking shift (2x) and the calves were fed the colostrum from their dams. This resulted in intervals from birth to colostrum feeding time that varied from 20 minutes to 17.8 hours.

All colostrum was fed warm from the dam in a nipple bottle. All the calves were offered 4L (4.2qt) initially. If they drank all 4L then 2 more liters were offered.


"Eighty-four percent consumed >3 L of colostrum. Of the calves consuming <3 L of colostrum, the average colostral intake was 2.7 L [2.9qts] and ranged from 2.4 L [2.9qt] to 2.7 L [3qt]." p6610

The average consumed was 3.6 L [3.8qt] with a low of 1.5 l [1.6QT].

These data support my experiences feeding colostrum with a nipple bottle. For my Holstein calves with an unassisted birth fed in the range of about 2 to 10 hours after birth well over half of them drank two full 2-quart bottles of colostrum and many more drank one full bottle and half or more of the second one.

I used the time while bottle feeding as an opportunity to do a health and vigor assessment on calves. I have to add that on one day when I also was trying to do regular calf feeding and we had 13 newborns I did not bottle feed colostrum to all of the newborns.

A side note on bottle feeding. I always had two nipples with me. One nipple had an "average" opening - that is, small enough to prevent colostrum from running out of the bottle when held upside down yet large enough to permit easy flow for a vigorously nursing calf. One nipple had a "small" opening - that is, small enough so that a calf had to work at getting colostrum from the bottle.

Why two nipples? Most, probably 9 out of 10, calves did just fine with the "average" nipple. However, a small minority had choking problems - as a newborn they could not swallow well enough to clear the back of the mouth consistently when breathing. I found the "small" nipple was quite effective in solving this issue. And, it prevented aspiration of colostrum. My part-time helpers called them the "fast" and "slow" nipples.

Reference: Osaka, I. and Others, "Effect of the mass of immunoglobulin (Ig)G intake and age at first colostrum feeding on serum IgG concentration in Holstein Calves." Journal of Dairy Science 97:6608-6612 2014

Monday, September 25, 2017

How Many Antibodies We Feed End up in the Blood?

A standard method is used to estimate the proportion of antibodies fed to a calf that end up in her blood. It requires knowing:
  • calf body weight
  • volume of colostrum fed
  • IgG concentration in colostrum
  • IgG concentration in blood serum
100 calves were in the study. "After a normal calving, the heifer received either 4 or 5.6L of colostrum within 4 hours of birth, [a sample was taken of the "as-fed" colostrum] and a blood sample was collected between 24 and 36 hours after birth." p3282

The measure is called "apparent efficiency of absorption" or abbreviated as AEA.

The AEA values:
  • Average = 28.1%
  • Median = 27.5%
  • Minimum = 7.7%
  • Maximum = 59.9%
Most of the calves (70%) had values between 21% and 40%.

BOTTOM LINE? Using "average" conditions, in order to end up with at least 5g/dLantibodies  in the calf's blood we need to feed roughly 180g total in the first feeding (28% AEA). [This uses 5g/dL as an acceptable threshold for successful passive transfer of immunity. Excellent quality colostrum (80g/L) will deliver this in 2.7 quarts. Poor quality colostrum (30g/L) would require 7 quarts to equal 200g of antibodies.]

As a side note, one of the dairies fed 4 quarts as first feeding within 4 hours of birth and then an additional 2 quarts before 12 hours of birth.

The two- feeding protocol (total of 6 quarts) resulted in both an increase in AEA and a 68% increase in circulating antibodies in the blood compared to the single 4-quart feeding. These data agree with one of my client dairies that has a two-feeding colostrum protocol - they have well over 90% of the calves testing at 5.5g/dl blood serum total proteins.

Reference: Halleran, J. and Others, "Short Communication: Apparent efficiency of colostral immunoglobulin G absorption in Holstein heifers." Journal of Dairy Science 100:3282-3286 September 2017