It is of utmost importance to feed clean and high quality maternal colostrum to newborn calves as they provide sufficient nutrients as well as antibodies. With that being said, accessing maternal colostrum with high IgG and low in bacterial counts can be a challenge for dairy farmers.
Hence, in situation like this, a quality colostrum replacer can provide a healthy alternative. However, it is not an easy decision to decide which type of colostrum replacer to use. More often than not, the farmers would choose the product with lowest cost. That would not be the best decision as the colostrum replacer may not provide all the sufficient nutrients to the newborn calves.
Calves born today represents the future of the herd. It is essential to ensure that they received proper nutrition as well as antibodies as they will contribute to the herd's future profitability.
Here are a few things to consider:
What is the difference between colostrum replacer and colostrum supplement?
Although colostrum replacer and colostrum supplement may seemed similar, they are in fact, very different. A colostrum replacer is used to be fed as the calf's only source of colostrum in the event where no high quality colostrum is available. It may also be used as a booster for the dam's colostrum by using a portion of the full dose.
As for colostrum supplement, they are used to boost the quality of on-farm colostrum collected.
What is the difference between product made from real bovine colostrum and product made from blood serum collected at slaughter houses?
Products that are made from real bovine colostrum are products that contain colostrum collected from the cow that has been dried down and heat-treated in order to eliminate any harmful agents such as Johne's disease or mycoplasma.
As for serum products, they are essentially built from the ground up using collected blood as the main source of antibodies for the calves. These products are very effective in transferring immunity to the newborn calves, but they can be short on soluble factors and maternal cells which are already present in the maternal colostrum. These are very important factors to the newborn calves as the calves will depend on them to create an immune response that will last until the calves develop their own immune system.
There are some research which shows that greater feed efficiency is achieved through 30 days of age when calves were fed maternal colostrum instead of serum based colostrum. The main reason for that is because serum lacks colostral fat, which is very energy-dense and well digested by the calves. These serum products are usually made of vegetable or animal fat which are less digestible by the calves.
Is the product labeled with a claim for Bovine IgG or just globulin proteins? IgG, or more specifically IgG1 are the antibodies which protects the newborn calves from pathogens that may cause scours and respiratory diseases. It's recommended that young calves receive a minimum of 100 grams of IgG to in order to have adequate immunity from the colostrum.
As for globulin proteins, they are comprised of a variety of other proteins and include IgG antibodies. However, it is virtually impossible to know what is the percentage of globulin protein is IgG by looking at the package. It is very possible that a product can be labelled as having 130 grams of globulin protein but contain less than the recommended 100 grams of IgG needed by the calves. Therefore, do not let the packaging label be the deciding factor when making a buying decision unless the IgG level is specifically stated.
Is the product licensed by USDA as a total replacement for maternal colostrum? It is crucial to buy a product that is licensed by USDA as a colostrum replacement to ensure that the calves are getting sufficient energy and antibodies they need for the first 12 hours.
Without the license from USDA, it is impossible to guarantee the potency or effectiveness of the product. Some serum-based replacers will use blood from USDA-certified slaughter houses. However, the drawback is that the replacer containing this blood has never been tested by USDA for effectiveness in transferring immunity for calves.
There are many colostrum replacers in the market and not all of them are equal. It is important to pay close attention to the product details and make more informed purchasing decisions to ensure that the colostrum replacer fulfil the needs of the newborn calves.