January 2020 Monthly Management

TBC Management after a Winter Layoff, Spring Fertiliser, Milk Replacer vs Whole Milk

22 January 2020

TBC Management after a Winter Layoff

TBC management after a winter layoff

For spring calving herds, some TBC issues can arise in the first collections following a winter layoff. To avoid high TBC readings, it is recommended to carry out a weekly hot wash on both the milking machine and bulk tank using the usual detergent sterilizer. By doing this, good hygiene is maintained and bacterial growth is greatly inhibited over these weeks. Other inportant measures to be carried out at this time of year include:

  • Checking correct water temperature and volume.
  • Automatic washing systems and bulk tanks should be calibrated to ensure the correct amount of detergent and water are used.
  • Storage of detergents - products should be stored as directed on the label, In chlorinated products, the main active ingredient, sodium hyperchlorite can degrade, thus making the detergent ineffective. Some detergents can crystalize which can reduce cleaning effectiveness and may also block pumps.

Wash Routine When Milk Supply Resumes

The following wash routine can be applied if TBC issues arise upon milk supply resuming. This routine is recommended for the removal of bio-films and other stubborn residues that may have developed in the weeks that the milking machine was idle.

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Spring Fertiliser

The timing and rate of fertiliser will depend on many factors such as location, soil conditions, temperature and length of growing season.

  • Check forecast and ensure at least 48 hours reasonable weather after application (i.e. rainfall less than 10mm will help urea move into the soil and reduce nitrogen losses through volatilisation).
  • Aim to apply 23 units of nitrogen/acre in the first application when conditions allow.
  • Urea is safer than ammonium nitrate-based fertilisers (i.e. C.A.N.) for early applications because there will be less nitrate-N, which is prone to leaching, in the soil.
  • Wait at least 3 months after liming before applying Urea.
  • Wait 10 days after slurry application before applying Urea.
  • Target most productive swards/recently reseeded fields with early nitrogen to get the best response.

Cattle slurry is a valuable source of N, P & K and performs best when applied in optimum conditions in the spring.

  • Aim to spread on fields with the lowest grass covers or paddocks that you don’t intend on grazing within the next six weeks.
  • 1,000 gallons of cattle slurry equates to approx. the same value of one bag of 5-7-30.
  • Focus on low P and K soils with slurry before or after the first grazing round to maximise the efficiency of slurry nutrients.
  • If ground conditions allow, target 30% of the farm with slurry and the remainder with at least 23 units of nitrogen.

Milk Replacer vs Whole Milk

Many farmers are considering using calf milk replacer (CMR) instead of whole milk this year. There are many advantages associated with this:

  1. Cost Saving - there is an economic advantage in using milk replacers compared to feeding whole milk that could be otherwise sold for processing (see table).
  2. Health benefits - reduced risk of transmission of infections e.g. Johne’s disease when compared to unpasteurised milk.
  3. Consistency - reduced risk of scour due to acidification and consistent formulas compared to feeding transitional/whole milk, leading to increased calf performance.

Milk Replacer (avg. price) Whole Milk
Cost/Litre €0.26/litre €0.32**
Hot water cost* €0.02/litre 0
6 Litres/calf €1.68 €1.92
25 calves/day €42 €48
8 weeks €2352 €2688
Cost Saving €336 saved on 25 calves over 8 weeks

Cost comparison of milk replacer at 12.5% concentration versus whole milk** over 8 weeks.

*cost to heat water on day rate electricity €2 per 100 litres (source: Teagasc)
**Whole milk price @32c/l = revenue foregone by not selling milk for processing

Comparison of Milk Replacers

At present there is a multitude of calf milk replacers available on the market, however, you should be aware of the varying types of powder on offer. Most milk replacer protein is derived from dairy protein such as skim milk powder and whey protein sources. These ingredients are highly digestible and are the most capable in meeting the calf’s requirements. Some milk replacers will include protein sources from vegetable origins (i.e. soya, wheat gluten and pea protein). Quite often these milk powders will be offered at a competitive price and will appear to have the same crude protein content as other milk replacers. However, these sources of protein have a lower nutritional value and are less digestible than milk proteins for calves under 4 weeks of age. These powders will also have higher ash and fibre levels which are undesirable for young calves. Most milk replacers have similar vitamin and mineral profiles, but some offer specific health packages aiding calf health – increased amino acid profiles, antioxidants and prebiotics to name a few added benefits.

milk replacer

Drinagh Co-Op stocks a wide range of calf milk replacers from the leading brands in the market. Contact your local sales representative or branch for more information.

Colostrum Quality

With calving season soon approaching, it is worth reminding ourselves of the importance of colostrum. When born, the calf’s immune system is not fully developed, and the calf depends on the immunity provided by the antibodies in colostrum for protection against disease. The level of antibodies is highest in the first milking and drops significantly in the second and third milking.

Milking Number
1 2 3 11

Colostrum Transition Milk Whole milk
Total Solids, % 23.9 17.9 14.1 12.5
Fat, % 6.7 5.4 3.9 3.9
Protein, % 14 8.4 5.1 3.1
Antibodies, % 6 4.2 2.4 0.09
Minerals, % 1.11 0.95 0.87 0.74
Vitamin, ug/dL 295 190 113 31

Antibodies are absorbed through the calf’s intestinal wall. Absorption rates will reduce dramatically over the first 24 hours of life. Therefore, it is vital that all newborn calves receive colostrum shortly after birth.

Time Ig Absorption in the Calf
Within 2 Hours Highest
After 6 hours Reduced by 50%
After 12 hours Reduced by 75%

The 1,2,3 rule should always apply – first milking, within 2 hours and 3 litres to be fed.