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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.





Health risks on your farm?

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Prevention of disease in calves

Is there sufficient ventilation in your rearing pens? Can you improve the hygiene?
How good is your calves' immunity? Discuss your approach to disease prevention
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