Colostrum: Boosting Lifetime Performance
When fed to calves as early as possible, colostrum is shown to have a measurable benefit on their future performance. By making the calf’s success a priority from day 1, you set it up for increased lifetime performance.
A boost for the immune system
Calves are born with a very limited immune system. Antibody-rich colostrum helps to protect them against diseases and contributes to building up their immunity.
"On our farm, we give calves colostrum within a half-hour of birth, mostly to protect them against diseases such as pneumonia, and we've had very good results," states Rachel Guay of Roggua Farm.
The earlier the better
For maximum benefits, calves need to be given colostrum immediately after birth. Three quarts of colostrum are recommended for the first feeding, which should take place within two hours of birth.
"To feed a newborn calf, we usually use colostrum that we've banked. The bag takes about 20 minutes to thaw, so by the time we collect the first colostrum from the mother, the calf has already had some," explains Andrew Bennett of Character Dairy Genetics.
Quality matters,but so does quantity
When it comes to the quantity of colostrum to be fed, the 3-2-2 feeding plan is recommended, which consists of giving the calf 3 quarts of colostrum at birth, followed by 2 quarts six hours later, then another 2 quarts twelve hours after birth. A 4-0-2 feeding is also possible on farms with limited resources.
Cleanliness is key
A calf is at its most vulnerable stage when being fed colostrum.This is why the bottles and nipples need to be thoroughly washedand sterilized between each feeding, and the calves' pens cleanedregularly. Needless to say the colostrum is required to be free ofharmful bacteria, which is why some producers opt to pasteurize it.
Fewer diseases = lower costs
By taking a preventive approach to calf health, for example, byfeeding them colostrum, you will significantly reduce the risk of diseases. This is exactly why Character Dairy Genetics has implemented a range of preventive measures. "By maintaining tight control over diseases, we eliminate a lot of medical treatments and save money," states Jayne Dietrich.