Colostrum Feeding

Colostrum Feeding

Feeding colostrum. To keep a calf with a cow or not?

When a calf is born, a common question arises whether to let the calf stay near the cow or keep them separate from each other, and feed the calf with a nipple or probe. I maintain that leaving a calf near your mother is a bad idea. Usually a very bad idea. If you allow the calf to stay near the mother – the incidence of morbidity and mortality (illness and death) will increase.

It is important to know the two most important things about colostrum consumption. Colostrum transmits to the calf immunoglobulins (Ig, also called antibodies), which provide passive immunity to the calf that is so much needed in the first two months, as well as throughout life. The calf is born without any Ig, so if the calf does not get Ig in the first 24 hours after birth, the chances of survival are not great. You can help yourself (and your calves) by making sure that the calves drink enough colostrum in these such important 24 hours.

The only and most important component for the successful transfer of Ig from the cow to the calf through colostrum, is the intake of a sufficient amount of colostrum. Calves should get enough colostrum to provide themselves with Ig, necessary for the formation of passive immunity. On those farms where the calves are kept near the mother, there is usually no success – calves do not get as much colostrum as they can drink through a bottle or probe. Many studies suggest that calves eat small portions and do not get enough colostrum to achieve successful passive transmission. According to scientists, the number of calves that do not get enough colostrum is 25 to 40%. Therefore, so many calves are on the verge of risk. The other most important component of colostrum feeding is feeding as early as possible. How early? The effectiveness of Ig absorption in a calf falls with each subsequent hour. Therefore, the first watch is very important. Earlier, colostrum feeding is very important for obtaining passive immunity by calf. Delays in the first colostrum feeding not only cause a decrease in absorption efficiency, but also lead to illnesses and even death if the bacteria have settled in the intestine before colostrum has got there. Many calves – especially large calves that were difficult to bear, can not rise quickly after birth. A delay in getting up can also reduce the ability of the intestine to absorb Ig, thereby making the calf more susceptible to disease.

Calves that stay with their mother sometimes can not find udders or nipples, and as a result they do not get enough colostrum and start drinking colostrum later than if they were fed from the bottle. The situation becomes even worse if the cow has a large swinging udder that is close to the ground. Because by nature the calf, when it sucks, raises its head upwards, and it can lose a lot of time in search of the udder. Instead of drinking colostrum, he spends time searching, and in the meantime, substances from litter or manure that contain deadly bacteria can enter the intestine.

The conclusion is that the calves that remain near the cow are in a huge risk zone. They may not get enough colostrum, get colostrum too late. Therefore, you must separate the calf from the mother as quickly as possible and feed it fresh, high quality colostrum. And if the calf does not want to drink it voluntarily, then, without hesitation, resort to using the probe.

Source: Jim Quigley