It was my first visit to the dairy - October, 2002. The calf manager wanted help with a persistent and widespread scours problem. Among all the things we talked about was the need to check "as-fed" colostrum for bacteria content.
Results from two samples? Both over 180,000cfu/ml coliforms and one sample we estimated around 350,000cfu/ml total plate count.
We put into place a number of corrective measures over the next few years. The list of best management practices can be seen HERE . After several years of training and retraining staff the situation improved. Naturally this dairy like others suffers from protocol drift and retraining has to be done periodically.
Now in 2015? The farm samples colostrum about three times a year - the latest results just came across my desk. Only one of seven samples had any coliform growth at all (i.e., zero growth) and that one was only 1,900cfu/ml. [For reference, 5,000cfu/ml is an upper threshold for coliforms in colostrum.]
Total plate counts were 9,900, 6,300, 4,700, 4,200, 1,300, 1,300, and 900cfu/ml. For reference, 50,000cfu/ml is an upper threshold for total plate count in colostrum.
What a long way from 350,000! The best management practices to produce clean colostrum are now considered, "It's the way we do things here at this dairy." It is always good to participate in a successful calf enterprise.
It really is possible to produce clean wholesome colostrum.