Summer is in full force. Cows need lots of water. Calves do too.
A study by Wickramasinghe and colleagues published earlier this year examined differences in offering calves free-choice water starting at day 0 vs. day 17 (the average age from the 2014 USDA National Animal Health Monitoring System study). The study’s Holstein calves were bottle fed ad lib volumes of milk at 6 quarts per day (over 3 feedings) until 14 days of age, then 10 quarts per day (over 3 feedings) from 14 to 42 days, then 3.4 quarts per day (1 feeding) until weaning at 49 days.
What did they discover?
- Once they had water available, the starting-at-day-17 calves drank more water through the rest of the preweaning period.
- Calves with water from day 0 drank more milk than the group starting water at day 17.
- Starter intake did not differ significantly between the two groups.
- Calves with water available from day 0 were, on average, taller and longer at weaning and heavier at 5 months than those who didn’t have water until day 17.
- The two groups had essentially the same incidence pattern of scours.
These results are in accord with an earlier study published in 1984 by Kertz et al. With a more limited milk allowance and much younger weaning age (28 days!), calves with free access to water ate more calf starter and gained more weight with no difference in incidence of scours compared to calves with no water available.
The bottom line: Make sure your calves have water! Even for the youngest ones, water will help them grow.
Wickramasinghe et al. Drinking water intake of newborn dairy calves and its effects on feed intake, growth performance, health status, and nutrient digestibility. Journal of Dairy Science, 2019, 102:377-387.
Kertz et al. Ad Libitum Water Intake by Neonatal Calves and Its Relationship to Calf Starter Intake, Weight Gain, Feces Score, and Season. Journal of Dairy Science, 1984, 67:2964-2969.
When: Thursday, June 27, 2019; 8:00-4:30; lunch provided
Where: Oldfield Animal Teaching Facility, Oregon State University (3521 SW Campus Way, Corvallis)
For the full schedule and additional details, see the Range Field Day Flyer 2019.
When: March 27-29, 2019
Where: Eastern Oregon Agricultural Research Center, Burns
Class size is limited; register ASAP to secure a spot. For full details and registration information, click on the flyer link below.
When: February 26-March 1, 2019
Where: Owyhee County Extension Office, Marsing, Idaho
Cost: $325 for entire school or $125 for “tune-up” session
Languages: English, Spanish
For full details and registration information, click on the flyer link below.
When: Wednesday, January 30, 2019 (all day)
Where: 4-H Clover Club Building, Prineville, Oregon
RSVP to OSU Crook County Extension Service (541-447-6228) by January 25.
Full details on this document: Central Oregon Forage Seminar 2019.01.30.
When: November 16 and 17
Where: Corvallis, Oregon
Cost: $30 (includes lunch)
For the rest of the details, click the pdf link below.
The caused-many-deaths BSE is referred to as classical BSE, where the route of infection was due to ingestion by cattle of the infectious agent: a nasty little misfolded protein called a prion, specifically a prion designated PrPSc. Infection with PrPSc came from affected animals that were recycled into meat and bone meal and fed to other cattle. When the molecules of PrPSc get into the body, they go around refolding the native, normal PrPC proteins into the abnormal PrPSc proteins (see figure). As the disease progresses (over years), normal brain tissue becomes decidedly abnormal, and the animal’s behavior follows suit. Key symptoms of BSE include nervousness or aggression, abnormal posture, and lack of coordination. Cattle exhibiting such behaviors are not allowed in the food chain and are automatically tested for BSE.
Due to bans on the recycling of higher-risk tissues into feed, identified cases of classical BSE have fallen to essentially zero worldwide. What surveillance programs have picked up are a very few cases of what is called atypical BSE. The prions detected in these cases are slightly different at the molecular level from that in classical BSE. Atypical BSE arises from a spontaneous mutation in the gene that encodes the native PrP protein with the result that they start to misfold into a PrPSc-like shape. Like the atypical BSE-affected cow recently identified in Florida, these cases are not caused by infection from the outside.
Discovery of this “mad” cow (and the five others over the last 28 years) demonstrates that the surveillance procedures conducted by USDA are effective. At this point, USDA is testing about 25,000 cattle a year, and those are largely sampled from older or ill animals. USDA estimates the prevalence of BSE in the US at 1 in 1 million cattle.
Bottom line: we will occasionally see cases of atypical BSE pop up due to nature (mutations happen!) and our well-functioning surveillance system, but risk to the health of people and other cattle is exceedingly low.