Correct Weight Case Study

Damian & Candida Johnson 2016-17 By Phil Keegan Dairy Farming is a complex business. Many factors have either a positive or negative effect on profit, and many of these factors are beyond the control of the operator like price received for milk sold among others. Pasture production, herd health management, machinery maintenance and heifer management are just a few areas that an operator can influence to achieve positive results. Warrnambool Veterinary has partnered with a number of farms to achieve improved results with our Correct Weight heifer management programs. Correct Weight is a program which monitors the growth and health of heifers, providing periodic reports and nutritional advice. This is complimented by developing and administering a strategic drench and vaccination program to best suit that operator’s situation with a long term goal to have improved outcomes for the heifer development and longevity in the milking herd when they calve. Damian & Candida Johnson of Minhamite signed up to the Correct Weight Premium program for their 73 heifers born in 2016. They are a seasonal calving 1st of April herd of about 220 cows aiming to improve fertility by introducing more heifers to the herd. Their previous year’s heifers were well below target weights at joining and this had been a significant influence on their decision to join Correct Weight in 2016. In our initial discussion we recognised they had been carrying over heifers each year that failed to grow out so the first goal was to ensure no carry over heifers for this group. At their first weigh day in late September 2016, our target average weight was 152kg,...

When Quality Matters

What does colostrum quality mean? “New-born calves should be actively fed good quality colostrum as soon as possible after birth to reduce the risk of failure of passive transfer (FPT).” In this context, colostrum quality is referring to the concentration of antibodies (also referred to as “IgG”) per litre of colostrum. The higher the concentration of antibodies in a litre, the better the quality of colostrum. Good quality colostrum is defined as containing at least 50 grams of IgG per litre of colostrum. Poor quality colostrum is defined as being less than 50 grams IgG per litre of colostrum. What affects the quality of colostrum produced? The quality of colostrum produced is one of the hardest factors to influence in a colostrum management program. Colostrum quality can be affected by many different factors including breed, parity, dry period length, volume of colostrum produced and time to first milking. Jersey breed cows tend to have the highest concentration of IgG per litre of colostrum, whilst Holstein-Friesians tend to have the lowest concentrations of IgG per litre. This is associated with the high volumes of colostrum that these breeds often produce, resulting in dilution of IgG present in the udder. Previously, parity has been shown to affect the IgG concentration in colostrum, with older cows having higher quality colostrum compared to younger cows. However, further research suggests there is no difference in IgG concentration with age. Some heifers produce excellent quality colostrum and the practice of discarding colostrum produced by heifers is now discouraged. The production of colostrum in the udder commences approximately 4–6 weeks prior to calving. Therefore, the length...

How clean is your colostrum?

Good quality colostrum helps protect calves against disease in the first 4–6 weeks of life by the provision of antibodies. Research has shown that the provision of an adequate volume of clean, good quality colostrum as soon as possible after birth has long-term benefits. These include reduced veterinary costs and increased milk production in the first and second lactations. However, colostrum can become heavily contaminated during the collection, handling and storage processes. Contaminated colostrum can not only be the source of some major infectious diseases, such as Salmonella, Bovine Johne’s Disease and Mycoplasma, but the presence of these pathogens in colostrum can also inhibit the absorption of antibodies by the small intestine of the calf. Therefore, calves fed contaminated colostrum are at a higher risk of disease and failure of passive transfer of immunity. Possible sources of contamination include the teat skin, milking cup liners, hoses or the bucket itself. Sub-optimal cleaning of collection buckets and feeding equipment such as teat or tube feeders will exacerbate this problem. If allowed to accumulate, colostrum residues can be difficult to remove allowing bacterial overgrowth in hard-to-reach areas. It is ideal to thoroughly wash all feeding equipment after each use, including the sanitisation of tube feeders between calves. A simple protocol for the cleaning of feeding equipment is outlined below. For ALL feeding pails and tube feeders at the end of every feeding 1. RINSE Rinse all equipment with lukewarm water, to remove milk residue, manure and dirt. Do not use hot water at this stage as it causes the milk proteins to coagulate and stick to the surfaces. 2. WASH Use...

Preg Testing Beef Cows

In any beef cattle enterprise, irrespective of the size of the herd, the identification and possible culling of unproductive stock is essential to maximise herd productivity. Pregnancy testing is one of the most important tools to achieve this. Timing of pregnancy testing Generally, the most convenient time for handling the cows is at weaning and pregnancy testing can be organized easily to coincide with this management procedure. Non-pregnant or ‘empty’ cows can be identified by ‘banging’ tails or by recording identification numbers. These cows can then be segregated and prepared for sale after weaning. If you want accurate information on the stage of pregnancy, you will need to pregnancy test earlier, however. Between 6 and 12 weeks of pregnancy aging the stage of pregnancy is very accurate, as pregnancy progresses, the precision of aging is reduced and age will be given to the month rather than the week. Towards term a 7-week error can be expected, especially as there can be up to 3 weeks in variation in gestation length between individual cows. Heifers should be pregnancy tested 7-8 weeks after bulls are taken out. Sufficient numbers of heifers should be retained for a short joining period and those that do not become pregnant should be culled at the time of pregnancy diagnosis. Economic performance Pregnancy testing enhances the economic performance of the beef herd in a number of ways. Earlier calves make more money and for every day the average calving date is shortened in a 100-cow herd, $200 is generated if 1kg live weight is worth $2. A mature cow will consume 8kg of dry matter per...

Which Worms

As we come to the end of winter and spring approaches, it is time to think about how the change in season can affect the burden of internal parasites in weaned stock. This article discusses the common gastrointestinal worms and how they can affect cattle, especially young stock. The common gastroinestinal worms Gastrointestinal worms in cattle are divided into nematodes (round worms), cestodes (tapeworms) and trematodes (flukes). They are assigned to one of these groups according to their structure. Within each group, the life cycles and growth of the parasites are generally very similar and different from those of the other two groups. The nematodes are the most economically important internal parasite of cattle. Tapeworms play a minor role and flukes cause significant economic losses in some geographic areas. The nematodes (round worms) The small brown stomach worm, Ostertagia ostertagi, penetrates the lining of the abomasum (fourth stomach) causing severe damage and inflammation. Infected heifers have a severe scour, inappetence, anaemia and weight loss. Cattle up to 18 months old can be affected. This parasite can enter an arrested phase of its lifecycle which can then resume 3-9 months later. This type of disease can cause significant losses in young heifers as the worm larvae emerge. The Barbers Pole worm, Haemonchus placei, thrives in the warmer climates of NSW and QLD. This blood sucking parasite also inhabits the abomasum and causes severe anaemia and loss of protein. This results in the characteristic ‘bottle jaw’ appearance with affected cattle being weak and slow to move. The stomach hair worm, Trichostrongylus axei, is the last of the common abomasal nematodes. It...