Dairy Expo covers wide range of topics

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. — Experts from around the nation covered heaving-hitting dairy topics during breakout sessions at the recent Central Plains Dairy Expo in Sioux Falls, S.D.Topics ranged from calf and heifer raising to disease and antibiotic...

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. — Experts from around the nation covered heaving-hitting dairy topics during breakout sessions at the recent Central Plains Dairy Expo in Sioux Falls, S.D.Topics ranged from calf and heifer raising to disease and antibiotic considerations.

Antibiotic residues

Iowa State University's Patrick Gorden lead a session on antibiotic residues, not just in milk, but also in meat. Gorden is director of operations for ISU's Food Animal and Camelid Hospital and Food Animal and Camelid Veterinary Field Services.

Antibiotic residues show up in milk and meat often by accident because of improper marking for sick cows, poor record keeping or otherwise, Gorden said.

Gorden emphasized the importance of good record keeping. He also touched on the idea of producers being able to speak to the antibiotics being used on their farm, not just to a USDA or Food and Drug Administration inspector, but also to journalists or consumers. Differentiating between tolerance and safe levels will be paramount, Gorden said.


In terms of withholding times, there are several factors to keep in mind, Gorden said.

• For those selling young bull calves, dry cow therapy leaches into colostrum and can be found in veal.

• Producers must have veterinary approval for extra-label uses.

• Withdrawl periods are based on the time needed for the antibiotics to flush out of healthy cows. Sick cows will need longer withdrawl periods.

• Dumping treated cows into the beef market is inappropriate. An alternative could be to feed cows for gain while using up withholding time, Gorden said.

Safeguards include maintaining a valid, documented relationship with a veterinarian; properly labeling and using drugs; and working with vets to develop comprehensive treatment protocols, Gorden said.


Westway Feed Products' Richard Ernsberger discussed heifer management.


"Healthy heifers are profitable heifers," Ernsberger said.

Setting goals for the animals, such as weight before calving or calving age, is important and nutrition is the path to achieving those goals, Ernsberger said. He, too, emphasized record keeping.

"If you don't record it, you're not going to remember it," Ernsberger said. "How else will you know if you're doing a good job?"

Records should include treatments, physical exam results, feed changes with dates and movement or pen changes with dates.

From birth to weaning, heifer calves need the five Cs, Ernsberger said: colostrum, cleanliness, comfort, calories and consistency. Vaccinations need to be done at least 60 days prepartum to ensure protective qualities get passed on through colostrum. The most healthful colostrum is collected within four hours of birth. Ernsberger is a proponent of feeding fresh rather than powdered colostrum whenever possible.

All calves need access to water every day, ideally 24/7, Ernsberger said.

"It stimulates starter feed intake and helps develop the rumen," Ernsberger said.

Calves can be given calf starter at two or three days of age. They will consume more dry matter if their calf starter includes textured feeds like corn, oats and protein pellets. Calves don't like to eat fines and are more likely to eat feed with molasses.


Heifers shouldn't be weaned until they are eating two or more pounds of calf starter per day. They also shouldn't be moved for a few days after they are weaned in order to limit stress, Ernsberger said. When they are moved, Ernsberger suggests grouping by size rather than age and keeping even numbers in the pens.Adequate feed bunk space is important regardless of age.

Ernsberger recommends starting calves on TMR and fermented feeds around five month of age. Feeding at breeding should focus on keeping energy and protein levels consistent.


Vi-Cor Global Technical dairy specialist Christian Rippe is looking into connections between mycotoxins and hemorrhagic bowel syndrome (a fatal intestinal disease), but covered many other aspects of mycotoxins during his session.

Rippe encouraged producers to use toxin binders if they were not already doing so, saying binders act as a life insurance policy against mycotoxins' negative effects.

He estimated that approximately 25 percent of crops are affected by mycotoxins, resulting in $1.4 billion in economic cost and about one billion metric tons of product lost.

Rippe spoke to possible connections between mycotoxins and bacteria wherein the bacteria would amplify the negative effects mycotoxins have.

"We need more research into these connections for dairy cows," Rippe said.


Mycotoxins can have far-reaching effects on cows. Mycotoxins reduce feed intake and increase feed refusals, reduce nutrient absorption and impair metabolism, alter endocrine and exocrine systems, suppress immune function and alter microbial growth.

"Finding mycotoxin problems becomes a process of elimination and association," Rippe said. "Eliminate other options first."

Producers should test for mycotoxins if they suspect they have a problem. Collecting a representative feed sample can be difficult, so Rippe suggested consulting with the testing lab before collecting the sample.

Transitioning cows

Elanco Knowledge Solutions' Michael Overton highlighted the company's The Vital 90, which focuses on balancing energy and immune function from dry-off through 30 days in milk. During this time, cows go through a series of transitions and need energy and high immunity to stave off the various health concerns surrounding calving and bounce back to productivity as quickly as possible.

Nutritional needs during the transition period can vary greatly. Calcium needs alone can be around 11 grams per day while a cow is dry, but jump to more than 30 grams per day right around calving.

If energy is out of balance or immune function is impaired, it can have serious health consequences for the cow. A negative energy balance can lead to displaced abomasum, ketosis or ovarian dysfunction. Immune suppression can lead to mastitis, retained placenta or metritis. If a cow has both, she can contract milk fever or die.

Overton offered several tools to combat the challenges transitioning cows face:


• Control energy intake in far dry cows (not too much, not too little, but just right).

• Achieve adequate metabolizable protein.

• Manage risk of hypocalcemia during close up.

• Manage environment to minimize stress and weight loss during the entire dry and fresh periods.

• Dry and fresh cows should have access to rest areas that are adequate and comfortable.

• Consider feed additives.

• Be careful with pen moves.

• Be careful with long days dry.


• Use high-quality feed ingredients to promote dry matter intake.

• Promptly identify and treat fresh cow disorders.

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