Feeding colostrum is one of the most important thing you can do for a newborn calf. But WHY? & what are other Key aspects to feeding it.
I know it is basic but it is important to understand that calves are born with no antibodies; so, they are unable to fit off any challenge unless they are given quality colostrum. I want to break down the key aspects of feeding colostrum into: Quality, Cleanliness, Quantity, and Time.
Quality – it is important to ensure you are giving “good” colostrum to calves to ensure they are getting the IgG’s (antibodies) to fight off challenges ahead. The best way to know the quality is to test the colostrum with a refractometer or colostrometer. It is always a good idea to have a quality Colostrum Replacer on hand in case the mother does not have adequate colostrum.
Cleanliness- low in bacteria and using clean equipment is so important! When I talk to others about this I remind them this is the first thing going into the calf. If it is high in bacteria you are setting them up for failure and complications.
Quantity – experts suggest to feed a 100 pound plus calf 4 quarts at birth, for a calf that is 50-100 pounds 3 quarts at birth, and a calf less than 50 pounds 2 quarts at birth. If possible feed with a nipple bottle to help promote saliva production while ensuring that the nipple does not have a big hole in it allowing the milk just to flow into the mouth of the calf.
Time – prior to birth the calves are in a sterile environment so there is no need for disease protection. Within the first hours of life the calf’s ability to absorb whole antibodies through the small intestine declines fast! After 6 hours of life the absorption has already been cut by 1/3, so timing is everything. Colostrum also supplies the calf with much needed calories and fat.
Click Land O’Lakes Bovine IgG Colostrum Replacer to find out more information on LOL’s FDA approved and 100% bovine colostrum.