Colostrum management is essential for the health of new-born calves

Colostrum quality

The first colostrum feed will determine the calf's immunity during the first weeks of its life. This probably makes it the most important meal the animal will ever have. The absorption capacity for antibodies is highest in calves during the first hour after birth, and decreases with each passing hour. The first calf feeding is all about speed, colostrum quality, volume and temperature. Of the 4 qualifiers the colostrum quality is the most important one.

Colostrum management

Quality of cow colostrum management can be influenced in various ways. One way is to measure colostrum quality before calf feeding takes place and to replace poor quality colostrum by colostrum from a different cow or to enrich the quality by adding a colostrum replacer.

An alternative is to improve the feeding strategy during the close-up phase to make sure the colostrum volume produced on the day of calving is around 10 litres. Lastly, colostrum quality can be improved by vaccination of the dams with vaccines against pathogens involved in calf diarrhoea.

Measuring colostrum quality

Colostrum quality is essential for the health of new-born calves. The refractometer is an excellent tool to measure cow colostrum quality before calf feeding takes place. This video shows how to use the refractometer to improve colostrum management.

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Protocol Colostrum Management

The first feeding of colostrum is the most important meal a calf will ever get in its life. 

Farm-O-San offers a practical protocol guide with 7 steps to optimize colostrum management.

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