Minnesota research conducted five years ago with 12 eastern Minnesota and western Wisconsin commercial herds showed that 93% of colostrum samples contained more than 100,000 colony forming units/ml of bacteria. The median total plate count was 615 million cfu/ml. The current accepted industry recommendation is to have total plate counts of no more than 100,000 cfu.
Note: These were well-managed herds, ranging in size from 190 to 1,550 cows, with herd averages ranging from 21,500 lb. to 30,000 lb.
The danger from bacteria-laden colostrum is twofold: First, high numbers of bacteria can actually block the intestinal uptake of immunoglobin G (IgG). Second, high bacteria loads dramatically increase the risk of disease infection. In either case, the outcome generally isn’t good.