Colostrum feeding is crucial for the health of calves. Here are some advice on feeding colostrum in the first 3 days.
Within 1 hour of calving
The first colostrum feed will determine the calf's resistance to disease during the first week of its life.
This absorption capacity for antibodies is the highest in calves during the first hour after birth and it decreases over time.
It is recommended to feed 4 litres of colostrum within 1 hour of calving.
Quality of the colostrum must be checked for concentration of antibodies and purity.
Colostrum temperature is best being fed as close as possible to the calf's body temperature.
Within 24 hours
After a good first feed, the calf should be able to start coping on its own.
The second feed should be given 12 hours after the first.
If calf drank 4 litres in its first feed, about 2 litres of colostrum is good enough for second feed.
Do not force calves when giving second feed.
4-6 litres is enough for day one.
Day 2 - 3
On day 2 - 3, feed 2 times 3 litres of transition milk - milk following the colostrum.
This should be given using a rearing bucket with a teat at 70cm height if possible.
During the first days especially, the sucking action of calf has a positive effect on the digestion of milk and enzyme production.
Milk is best to be at temperature close to the body temperature of calf. Hence, it is important to drink quickly rather than let it cool down.