Strict hygiene is best prevention for Para tuberculosis in calves

Strict hygiene is best prevention for Para tuberculosis in calves

Strict hygiene is best prevention for Para tuberculosis in calves
A good hygiene programme contributes strongly to prevention of Para tuberculosis in calves. They must not have contact with contamination sources such as faeces and milk, for example. This applies both upon calving and in the following six months.
Para-TBC is a contagious disease which is characterised by an incurable bowel inflammation. The disease is caused by the Mycobacterium Avium Paratuberculosis (MAP), which is found in cattle.
Lower milk production at contaminated farms
Many cattle farms are contaminated with this bacterium, resulting in fluctuating cattle health, lower calf birth weights, weakened immunity and declining milk yield. The economic consequences of an infection are substantial. Research has shown the milk production to decline by 19.5% among clinically sick animals. The decline is 6 to 10 percent in the case of a sub-clinical contamination (contaminated but not visible).
Prevention of Para-TBC: isolate the calf from the cow
Contamination is usually in an early phase, generally immediately after calving. The calf is contaminated via colostrum, milk, faeces or saliva. Young animals up to the age of around 6 months, are more prone to contamination. Ingestion of 0.01 grams contaminated faeces (i.e. 10,000 MAP bacteria) is enough to infect a calf. The symptoms are not immediately visible; the incubation period is 2 to 6 years. Calves should therefore preferably be isolated from the cows immediately after calving.
Strict hygiene programme most effective
Various methods for tackling Para-TBC have been researched in recent years. These include the separation of contaminated and non-contaminated animals, vaccination of all animals and a hygiene programme for the first 6 months. As the table below shows, the latter method is by far the most effective.
Measures to combat Para-TBC in calves
A good hygiene programme can therefore prevent a great deal of misery. It is important to keep the calf from contact with contamination sources such as faeces and milk, for example. This applies both upon calving and in the following six months.
Preventative measures:
Ensure a separate, clean calving barn;
Ensure good natal hygiene. Clean the cow's rear end and udder, your hands and any equipment.
Directly after calving, move the calf to a clean pen;
Keep calves younger than 6 months separate from young cattle, cows and calves purchased elsewhere;
Only feed clean colostrum from cows free from Para-TBC;
Never feed calves mixed colostrum or milk with a high cell count;
Switch to Sprayfo rearing milk after 2 days of colostrum;
Feed clean roughage, never roughage from land which has been fertilised with (liquid) manure.
Sprayfo rearing milk is part of approach
Para-TBC is very simply transferred via milk of contaminated cows. Sprayfo rearing milk is therefore an essential part of the hygiene programme. The MAP bacteria are killed using UV rays or pasteurisation. Sprayfo only contains pasteurised dairy products, and is therefore free from MAP bacteria.
Sufficient iron is essential for your calves
An iron constitution with SprayfoCalves need iron for various physical processes, especially in the production of hemoglobin (in the blood) and myoglobin (in the muscles). These substances bind oxygen and transport it through the body. Furthermore, iron is important for a calf's resistance, optimum growth and conversion of nutrition and for the general fitness of the animals.
Young calves have by nature very low levels of iron and to keep the calves healthy, they must be supplemented with iron. For a good Life Start, the iron supply must be sufficient.
Iron levels in calves vary dramatically
The amount of iron in the body of the calf is partly determined by the season, the breed, the nationality, the growth rate and the levels of the different (roughage) feeds and water. But also through supply from rusty stall equipment or undesirable ‘’contamination’’ from (roughage) feed. Based on these parameters, calves require extra iron through supplementation and/or injection.
Deficit often already present at birth
Many calves already have an iron shortage at birth and are as a result anaemic. A deficient iron supply disrupts blood production, possibly causing anaemia in very young calves. Given that iron plays a role in the production of antibodies, this also affects these calves' resistance.
Study into extra iron supply
Hofgut Neumühle in Germany investigated whether an extra iron supply could improve iron levels in the first days of life. It studied blood values in 50 young calves and supplied them an iron preparation.
 On the 4th and 14th day of life, blood was taken to examine Haemoglobin levels (iron-bearing proteins in red blood cells), Haematocrit values (cellular blood components) and iron levels. All calves were given colostrum milk in the first week. In the second week, one half received full-fat cows' milk and the other milk replacer.
Iron shortage greatest in cows' milk
The results: on day 4, 33% of calves had a major iron deficiency and 25% had a slight iron shortage. On the 14th day of life, the calves who had been given milk replacer received more iron than the calves given cows' milk. Of the milk replacer group, 42% had good iron levels. In the cows' milk, just 25% of the calves had sufficient iron in the blood, so 75% had a shortage!
Follow-up trial with administration of iron preparation
Based on inadequate iron levels, even on day 14, a follow-up trial was set up. This involved supplying the calves an iron preparation for the first two days after birth. The calves were divided into two groups for this purpose. One group was given an iron injection (1000mg Iron Dextran). The other calves received the same amount of iron via a paste mixed through the colostrum milk. On the 4th and 14th day of life, haemoglobin and iron levels were once again tested. Additionally, blood samples were taken from 13 calves that had not been given iron.
Iron is best administered using a feed preparation. Administration of iron, both via injections and via milk, generates a significant improvement in haemoglobin levels in the blood. The biggest increase was established in calves that received iron in colostrum milk (see chart).
Effect of iron via injection and via colostrum
The results of the iron supply on iron levels in the blood were impressive: •77% of the calves already had correct iron levels after just four days.
• This was 63% with iron injections, while more than 75% of untreated calves still had an iron shortage! Despite iron supplementation, 15% (iron via colostrum) and 13% (iron via injection) still had a major iron deficiency after four days. After 14 days, the picture was very different. For calves receiving iron from colostrum, 92% had optimum iron levels. In calves receiving iron injection, this was 82%.
• Nothing changed in the group of untreated calves, with 77% still suffering iron shortages!

Control Iron via colostrum iron injection 

Rearing advice for an iron constitution
At 0.5 mg/l, iron levels in cows' milk are too low. Calves need about 100 mg per day, so cows' milk is insufficient and must be supplemented with an iron preparation. Administering iron to calves after birth is possible via a nutritional preparation (e.g. Sprayfo VIMIX). This works just as well as an iron injection. Note iron levels in powdered milk replacer per kg 80–100 mg. Concentrate is also rich in iron – an uptake of 0.5 kg concentrate per day provides sufficient iron. However, this only applies after four weeks of age. Even when using powdered milk replacer, we recommend adding an iron preparation to the colostrum. Sprayfo VIMIX is perfect for this, at 5 grams a day for 3–4 days.
Prevent spreading disease via cow’s milk!
Every dairy farmer wants to prevent diseases that are prevalent or incubating on his farm from being transmitted to young calves. By not feeding unpasteurised cow’s milk to your calves, you will substantially reduce the risk of spreading disease. It is well known that there are 7 diseases which are easily transmitted by cow’s milk. This is a brief description.
1. Para tuberculosis or Johne’s disease
Para TBC is a chronic infection of the intestines. Young calves are most susceptible to the transmission of Para TBC. However, incubation takes a long time: the symptoms of the disease only manifest after 3 to 6 years. There is no treatment for Para TBC. The first signs of Para TBC are a 10 to 20% downturn in milk production, worsening physical condition and lower birth weight of calves. Ultimately the animal may die from diarrhoea.
The Animal Health Service (GD) advises that only colostrum from the mother cow should be fed followed by the introduction of calf milk powder instead of cow’s milk. Mixing 'colostrum milk' from different cows is absolutely prohibited as is feeding beestings from cows that have tested positive for Para TBC.

2. Salmonella
Salmonella is also an infection of the intestines. Salmonella can cause violent diarrhoea, pneumonia and high fever. An animal can transmit Salmonella bacteria via manure within 1 to 3 weeks. An analysis of the milk in the tank will diagnose whether there is Salmonella on the farm. Even on the cleanest farm it happens that bacteria find their way into the milk via small particles of manure.
Newly-born calves are most susceptible to Salmonella infection but all animals are prone to catching it. Most animals recover from Salmonella infection, although young calves quite often die from it. It is has been established that substituting calf milk powder for cow’s milk helps to prevent the disease from spreading.
3. BVD: bovine viral diarrhoea
BVD occurs in cattle of all ages throughout the world. At the time of writing this is one of the most contagious cattle diseases in Europe. The most common form of BVD undermines resistance to disease and therefore causes diarrhoea, fever, pneumonia and decline in milk yield.
Half of BVD-carrying animals can be recognised by problems with the eyes, skin, hair growth and brains, but in the other half there is no sign that the animal is carrying the virus. Since 2011 all newly-born calves in Germany are tested for BVF at the same as they are earmarked.
BVD is transmitted by feeding cow’s milk to young calves among other things. The Dutch Animal Health Service therefore recommends switching over to calf milk powder immediately after feeding beestings.
4. Mycoplasma
Among other things, Mycoplasma infections cause pneumonia, ear infections and combinations of diseases that are difficult to treat. The Mycoplasma bacterium can also be found in the udders of young calves and may therefore be the source of clinical mastitis at the start of the first lactation. The spread of Mycoplasma mastitis on a farm is the result of inadequate hygiene when milking and feeding calves with mastitis milk and/or cow's milk.
5. Infectious mastitis
Staphylococcus aureus, Streptococcus agalactiae and other mastitis-causing agents can be transmitted by feeding mastitis milk or cow’s milk. These disease agents are not a direct threat to the calf’s health, but can survive in the udder for months and even years. The result can be that a heifer suffers from immediate mastitis problems at the first lactation.
The Staphylococcus aureus bacterium in particular is a tough survivor. Never feed a calf with the 'colostrum milk' from a cow with mastitis and certainly not with milk from cows that have been treated with antibiotics. This may cause digestive problems and result in resistant bacteria developing so it becomes difficult to fight infections at a later age.
6. Bovine leukosis
The Bovine Leukemia virus (BLV) is a retrovirus which can infect all animals and cause bovine leukosis disease. In bovine leukemia one or several tumours may develop in the abomasum resulting in reduced food intake, weight loss and low milk yield. BLV can be transmitted via blood, via the placenta during pregnancy but also via beestings and cow’s milk.
7. Leptospirosis
Leptospirosis no longer occurs on Dutch farms thanks to a succesful national campaign, but it does occur in other countries. The disease is produced by the Leptospira Hardjo bacterium and can be transmitted to human beings (milker’s fever). The disease is transmitted via the urine of infected animals and can also be transmitted to calves via cow’s milk.