There are many decisions to be made everyday. Some are important, some are minor. Colostrum handling is one of those process that needs to be taken seriously. Proper colostrum feeding is the foundation of the animal. Done properly, it will ensure a healthy animal throughout its life.
It is the calf manager or maternity worker to ensure proper colostrum feeding is done. Research shows that besides successfully transfer passive immunity, proper colostrum feeding also starts the calf's digestive and reproduction functions. It also reduces cases of pneumonia in the calf. Over the long term, it allows earlier calving as well as higher overall milk production.
Here are some do's and don'ts of colostrum feeding:
Ensure highly quality colostrum is being fed. Only feed colostrum that has more than 50g of immunoglobulin G’s per litre or an equivalent of 22 percent on a Brix scale.
Do not mix high and low quality colostrum. Feed the high quality colostrum first and save the lower-quality for second feeding.
When storing colostrum, ensure that refrigerated colostrum is not older than 24 hours while frozen colostrum is not older than 12 months.
Feed the colostrum as soon as possible right after birth. The target goal is 30 minutes after birth. Research shows that feeding sooner allows easier absorption of immune components in the colostrum into the animal's system.
Invest in good colostrum system to ensure that the colostrum is stored, warmed up and fed properly.
Colostrum is very sensitive to any change in temperature and it must be treated differently as compare to milk. When warming the colostrum up to feeding temperature, make sure that the water is no more than 48.8ºC to prevent denaturing the colostral immunity.
Do not leave colostrum out. Either feed, pasteurise or immediately store them in a refrigerator or freezer. Leaving it at room temperature allows bacteria to grow.
Do not underfeed colostrum. Colostrum provides immunity that protects the calf. It also contains important nutrients and minerals to help the calf grow.
Always ensure that the feeding equipment is clean. Most of the culprit of calfhood problems are due to unhygienic equipment. Have many tube feedings or nipple feeders as you can so that each new calf will be fed with a clean instrument.
Either clean thoroughly all the buckets and bottles after each use or implement disposable colostrum bags that will save on labour and ensure clean colostrum storage and handling.
Managing colostrum isn't difficult but it requires effort and attention to detail. Without proper tools, it can be inefficient and time consuming. Hence, it is vital to get the right tools in order to have high quality colostrum which will ensure healthy and high performing newborn calves.