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...

Exciting New Mastitis Research

  Exciting New Mastitis Research By Dr David Beggs In the next few weeks, an important research project will commence at Warrnambool Veterinary. We have been contracted by Bayer Animal Health to trial a new treatment for mastitis. The trial is being run to assist registration of the new product in Australia. Because of this a large number of samples are required. The target number is 600 cases of mastitis in each treatment group. With each herd involved, and with each case of mastitis there will be a bit of paperwork involved so that everything undertaken as part of the trial can be documented. Milk samples will need to be collected for culture by Warrnambool Veterinary staff before treatment, and the treatment course will be also be commenced by one of our staff members. The upside for farmers who choose to be involved are: All treatment costs provided at no cost to the farmer; Mastitis sampling and culture provided at no cost to the farmer, and undertaken by Warrnambool Veterinary Staff; Mastitis sampling will occur before first treatment, and again around three weeks later to assess success of treatment; There will be a payment to the farmer for each case enrolled into the trial; and Dairy farmers will receive up to date knowledge on the mastitis organisms causing mastitis in their herds. We are very excited at being involved in this project, and any farmers who are as excited as us and would like to be involved are invited to contact us for further information. Several farmers have already expressed their interest, but because a large number of samples...

Farewell from JK

  Farewell From JK By Dr Jon Kelly To all my friends, colleagues and clients. Hopefully I have seen most of you over the last little while, but for those who I have missed, Jen and I have decided to take the family on a caravan adventure around Australia. We leave at the beginning of August for at least the next 18months (unless the family fight and then we will be back sooner!). Thank you all for your wonderful friendship over the last 12 years. It has been an honour to work with you all. All the best,...

Jon Kelly to leave Warrnambool Veterinary

  Jon Kelly to leave Warrnambool Veterinary By Dr Stephen Jagoe It is with a lot of sadness that we will be losing Jon from Warrnambool Veterinary on July 21. Jon and his wife Jenny (who work at Warrnambool from 2000 to 2003) arrived in Warrnambool in 2005 after working in the UK, at Colac and Mt Gambier. In the last 12 years, they had had three children and established a strong presence in the Allansford community. Jon became a partner in the practice in 2007, and has driven the cattle side of the business to be one of the strongest in Victorian dairy practices. He has had a special interest in dairy cattle reproduction, and many of our clients will have been involved in trials Jon has designed and implemented. As a result of these trials, we now have a much better knowledge of the factors contributing to non-cycling cows in dairy herds, and have been able to demonstrate effective treatments for this group of animals. As part of the dairy cow fertility issue in dairy herds, Jon was one of the first to realise the potential of using heifer management to drive improvements in overall herd fertility. By undertaking trials looking at the effect of bodyweight on heifer fertility we are able to make sound evidence based recommendations on heifer management to achieve high fertility and productivity. From these trials, the Correct Weight program evolved with its associated benefits for our clients. Jon has also undertaken trials of the 10 day fixed time AI program we have recommended for many years, and has proven its benefits in...

Sexed semen Fixed Time AI Trial 2015–2016 Results

  Sexed semen Fixed Time AI Trial 2015–2016 Results By Dr Jon Kelly Background In 2015/16 WVC conducted a trial on 19 herds and 1780 dairy heifers to determine if conception rates using frozen sexed semen could be improved by altering the timing of AI, when a 12 day Fixed Time AI program was used. The reason the trial was conducted was because in a previous project by WVC, fertility using frozen sexed semen was improved when AI was delayed more than 50hrs post CIDR pull. Also, the sexed semen processors have proposed that fertility using sexed semen may be increased by timing AI closer to ovulation than what is usually necessary with conventional(non-sexed) frozen semen. Method To investigate if this effect could be achieved in Dairy heifers, the following trial protocol was followed, with age, weight, Body Condition Score(BCS),heat at the time of AI as well as timing of AI assessed for their effect on fertility. The key to the trial was altering the time of AI on Day 12. This was done by having half of the heifers AI’ed at approximately 48hrs post CIDR pull(Day10), while the other half of the heifers were AI’ed 3 hrs later. If more than 1 sire was used, then the sires were also equally distributed between the early and late groups. Timing of AI was deliberately instructed to begin “approximately” 48 hrs from CIDR pull as this would ensure that insemination would occur over a wide range of times. This was achieved with AI occurring from between 47 – 53 hours post CIDR pull (Day 10). Logistically, this means AI was...