Focus On Colostrum Quality

Focus On Colostrum Quality

The 2011 Rotavec Corona National Calf Scour Survey recently conducted by Dairy Farmer magazine and Farmers Guardian has highlighted the importance of feeding newborn calves as much high quality colostrum as possible during the first 24 hours of life.


Around 800 farmers responded to the survey questionnaire and the findings highlighted the fact that many rearers are still struggling to get on top of scour problems. On a positive note, 94.3% of farmers say they consult their vet when faced with a scour problem, but the issue is many don’t until the disease is quite severe.


Even if you have quite a mild scour problem with your calves, it is well worth contacting the practice for advice. Often we can help stop a mild problem becoming a very severe and costly one.


One of the first steps is to assess whether there are any infectious scour pathogens causing the problem using a simple calf-side faecal testing kit. Rotavirus and cryptosporidia remain the most prevalent infectious scour-causing pathogens on UK farms, and the survey findings confirm this too. On farms that had had a causative disease organism identified, rotavirus was detected in 45.7% of cases and cryptosporidia in 32.7%. E.coli K99 (24.7%) and coronavirus (12.4%) were also significant pathogens.


In terms of scour prevention, we can also help you assess whether the colostrum you are feeding to your calves is of good enough quality. Using a colostrometer can help provide a quick assessment of colostrum quality, but we can also test the antibody status of your calves and this will certainly determine whether your calves are getting the protection they need.


Don’t forget that the best way of boosting colostrum quality to protect calves from scours caused by rotavirus, coronavirus and E.coli K99 is to vaccinate the dam with Rotavec Corona one to three months before calving. This then ensures your calves can gain disease protection from drinking the antibody-rich colostrum – but make sure that calves get at least three litres of this fortified liquid gold within the first six hours of life!


If cryptosporidia infection has been identified on your farm, it can be controlled by the use of Halocur. The drug reduces the severity of disease in individual calves and suppresses the output of oocysts, which cuts the risk of disease spread.

15th January 2012

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