The Colostrum protocol

“Colostrum, of extreme importance”

A calf is born with no active immune system. Colostrum delivers essential antibodies from cow to calf. That makes it very important that the calf be provided as quickly as possible with the first colostrum from the mother, which is rich in immunoglobulins (IgGs) and a whole raft of other important nutrients.
IgGs are absorbed via the intestinal wall, and help the calf build up resistance to a whole array of pathogens that the calf will encounter.

Colostrum protocol
feeding colostrum to calves

The best start

A new-born calf is vulnerable. It has no natural antibodies and during the first few weeks the calf’s own immune system is still insufficiently developed to fight off infection in the intestine (diarrhoea) or lungs (pneumonia). For that reason it is essential that calves be fed colostrum as quickly as possible following birth.

What makes colostrum unique?

Colostrum contains high concentrations of antibodies in the form of immunoglobulins, abbreviated to IgG that protect the calf. But the antibodies are not the only elements that make colostrum a unique product; colostrum also contains other ‘life-critical substances’: white blood cells, growth hormones, vitamins, minerals, protein and energy. All of these ingredients help keep the calf happy and growing fast, also on day two and three following birth.

Colostrum management

“Plenty, quickly, often and fresh”

For an optimal start in life, make sure that your calves receives at least three to four litres of good-quality colostrum within one hour following birth (rule of thumb for the quantity: ten percent of the calf’s birth weight). A further two litres within eight hours and two more within 24 hours. In other words a total of between seven and eight litres in the first 24 hours, in which only colostrum is supplied from the first milking.

In this way, your calves will receive sufficient nutrients to build up sound resistance immediately following birth. Rapid supply of colostrum is literally of life-saving importance: the take-up of antibodies by a calf via the colostrum works best immediately following birth. Within twelve hours, the take-up of antibodies is halved, and after 24 hours there is no further take-up of antibodies from the colostrum, into the blood.

colostrum quality measurement
Brix refractometer - colostrum management

Density of colostrum

Good-quality colostrum contains at least 50 gram IgG per litre. The first colostrum contains the highest IgG concentration; in the second colostrum, this concentration has already halved. Not every cow produces high-quality colostrum. Using a so-called colostrum meter it is possible to read off the quality of the colostrum at a single glance. The meter determines the density of the colostrum (total dry matter content in terms of fat, protein and lactose). High-density colostrum is rich in antibodies. You can also use a so-called BRIX refractor meter that measures the refractive index. That index is again a measurement for the IgG content of the colostrum. Good-quality colostrum can be frozen and therefore remains available for other calves. Do not defrost colostrum in a microwave, but simply warm it up gradually (‘au-bain-marie’).

For more tips and information about colostrum,

watch our video’s about colostrum, where young stock specialist of Nutrifeed tell you everything that you need to know about colostrum management.

What factors influence the colostrum quality?

Tips for milking colostrum.

How can you influence the colostrum quality?

Tips how to deliver colostrum to calves in the best way.

Usefull tips how to handle colostrum

Usefull tips how to cool and store remaining colostrum.

Usefull tips for warming colostrum.

The best way to defrost colostrum.

Measuring is the first step towards effective colostrum management.

A BRIX refractometer is an effective colostrum management tool for measuring quality of bovine colostrum. This is a precise and easy-to-use instrument that can be used on farm.

Do you want to know more about how you can measure your colostrum quality?

Find here more information

Colostrum protocol

Do you want to know more about colostrum management, request our colostrum protocol.

This protocol contains a step-by-step plan for optimal colostrum management resulting in healthy and good growing calves.

Interested in the colostrum protocol or like have more information, request the protocol by filling in the request form below.

Interested in the Colostrum protocol?

Request the protocol

A well-arranged PDF with:
with all the information and a step-by-step plan for optimal colostrum management.

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