News & Advice

Do you rear calves? Keep them safe from Mycoplasma!

Aug 9, 2018 | Dry stock, Dry stock animal health & welfare, Grazing youngstock

It has become apparent that the two HIGHEST RISK practices for getting Mycoplasma are: buying infected animals, and feeding calves infected milk. Feeding whole, raw milk to calves from either the bulk tank or waste milk (cows under treatment) has been common practice for many calf rearers, as this milk is often inexpensive or free. However, it does come with risks for disease transmission, including Johne’s, Salmonella, E coli, Cryptosporidium and Mycoplasma, among others.

The best method of reducing the bacteria in raw milk is through on-farm pasteurisation. The most common type of pasteurisation unit is a batch pasteuriser which is designed to heat a small quantity of milk (up to a few 100 litres) for around 30 minutes.

Pasteurization is unlikely to be a feasible option for most people rearing a handful of calves. A less costly method of “treating” milk is adding citric acid. This is not a chemical form of pasteurisation but rather a method of preserving milk by lowering its pH to around 4-4.5. This method can be quite tricky to perfect- if the milk is above pH 4.5, the Mycoplasma can survive, while if the milk is below pH 4, the milk can spoil and calves won’t eat it.

The safest solution for calf rearers is feeding milk powder. Feeding a high quality milk powder (Bay Blenders or AnCalf) is a great option to ensure your calves receive disease-free milk. But if you have any questions about the ideal way of feeding your calves, contact your local Anexa FVC clinic.

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