Current colostrums management practices on Jersey farms in Vermont and New York State
The objective of this study was to evaluate current colostrum management practices on Jersey farms in New York and Vermont. Colostrum management surveys consisting of seven general farm questions and 24 colostrum management questions were mailed to 75 dairy farms in New York and Vermont in June of 2013. A total of 38 farms responded to the survey (50.66%). Of the 38 farms that responded, 10 provided calf serum for IgG analysis. Farms represented conventional (56%), organic (3%) and combinations of conventional and grazing (41%) operations. Farm size ranged from < 100 cows (67%), 100 to 199 (15%), 200 to 500 (10%), 501 to 1000 (5%), 1001 to 2,000 cows (3% of respondents). Colostrum collection occurred within 1 hour on 16% of farms and within 6 hours on an additional 58% of farms. Fresh cows were milked most often in the same parlor as the rest of the herd (69%) and were frequently milked last (52%). Colostrum was transferred to an average of 2.32 containers (SD = 0.47) prior to feeding. Mean time to first colostrum feeding was 7.79 hours (SD = 7.62); 24% of farms surveyed fed calves within 1 hour, 33% within 2 hours of birth, 35% within 6 hours of birth and 8% of calves were fed within 12 hours of birth. Mean colostrum consumption within the first 24 h was 3.00 L (SD = 1.11) with a range of <1 (3% of farms) to > 4.5 L (13% of farms). Colostrum quality was a concern on 55% of the farms and was assessed on 78% of the farms. The most common methods of assessment was to evaluate color and consistency of colostrum; only one farm was using a refractometer to measure colostrum quality. The majority of farms surveyed (82%) would discard unacceptable colostrum. The following conditions led to discarding colostrum on greater than 20% of farms surveyed: mastitis, sick cow, positive for Johne’s or Leucosis, watery appearance, or bloody appearance. Only one farm routinely monitored passive transfer in newborn calves. These data suggests that farms in this study are willing to discard colostrum from sick cows or visible altered (bloody), however colostrum management practices on Jersey farms in New York and Vermont have room for improvement, primarily in timing of feeding, amount of quality colostrum fed within 24 hours and assessment of passive transfer.
Keywords: colostrum, management, survey