Saturday, July 29, 2017

Program Aug. 15 Details Use of Refractometers in Evaluation Colostrum Quality

Cornell Cooperative Extension of Jefferson County will have a program demonstrating on farm use of refractometers in evaluating colostrum quality and calf immunity on organic dairy farms.

Detailed colostrum and calf feeding management can improve calf well being, reduce the frequency of illness and can eliminate the use of medications and therapy costs. Every calf on organic dairies should be fed a sufficient quantity of high-quality colostrum and whole milk.

A calf comes into the world defenseless, without an immune system sufficient to protect it from disease. Activation of the immune system from vaccines that produces the antibodies necessary to fight disease takes several weeks. 

To bridge the immunization gap starting at birth, the calf must take in antibodies from colostrum.  

The value of calves acquiring passive immunity through colostrum management comes from improved calf health, especially respiratory health. Studies done since the late 1960s have also shown the value of colostrum and blood IgG levels in young calves will impact the long term health and future milk production of the dairy herd.

Jefferson County Cornell Cooperative Extension will demonstrate the use of refractometer as an easy, on farm method of evaluating colostrum quality and total solids in milk fed to calves.

The workshop will be held from 12:30 to 2:30 p.m. Tuesday Aug. 15 at Meeks Farm Organic Dairy, 25793 Waddingham Road, Evans Mills, Jefferson County. There is no fee for this workshop. RSVP not required but registration allows us to communicate any cancellations or changes in arrangements.

Kim Morrill of Cooperative Extension will be the guest speaker for the workshop. Morrill has published a paper in the Journal of Dairy Science showing that the Brix scale measurement from refractometer could be used to estimate failure of passive transfer in calves. One refractometer can be used to evaluate colostrum quality, total solids in milk as well as passive transfer in calves. 

Participants will be able to take back to the farm information about the quality of colostrum and how it varies greatly, how total solids of waste milk fed to calves fluctuates day to day and measuring immunoglobulin concentrations in the calf’s blood is the only method for evaluating passive transfer of immunity.

For more info please contact Ron Kuck, Dairy/Livestock Educator, CCE of Jefferson County; (315) 788-8450 (office), (315) 704-8810 (cell) or

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