Colostrum to Help New Babies Live

I have written an article about this before, but it is so important that I am going to refresh everyone’s mind about the facts again. I get a lot of questions about colostrum and new born babies. These babies must have at least 10% of their body weight the first 18 hours of life.

The reason for this was discovered by Universities and the United States Meat Animal Research Center at Clay Center, Nebraska, back in the late 1990’s. The found that all calves that received 1 gallon of good quality colostrum within the first 18 hours of life where healthier all the way to the packer. When you think about this, it will make a lot of difference in how healthy our calves are throughout the first 2 years of their life.

Now, one of the main things I here is I went to the store and got some colostrum and gave the calf some. OK, what was the quality of that colostral supplement you bought? Most are not that great! I have seen the pills they have and when you look, they are nothing but good bacteria. They do not have bovine IgG at all. When we look at getting our calves immunity right after birth, we want around 150-180 grams of IgG going into their abomasum. And if you really look at the ingredients of all of these colostral supplements, that is all they are is supplements. Not replacements!!!

There is a huge difference between a supplement and replacement. A replacement will take the place of, where as a supplement will just boost what the calf gets from Momma. There is only 1 artificial colostral replacement that is sold commercially and it is out of Canada. I try to keep it in stock. There absolute best colostral replacement is from another cow. But, all cows are not equal in the production of colostrum. So, we must test the colostrum before use.

This testing of colostrum can be done very easily on the farm. There are 2 methods. Number 1 is to buy a colostrometer from somebody. Then while it is sitting on the counter someone bumps it and it falls over on the counter and shatters. There goes about $50.00. I have always used an antifreeze tester. They were proven to work by a class mate of mine back in the late 1980’s. You just have to remember the rule of thumb; a bull has to have 2 balls to be worth hoot, but a cow better float 3 or 4 balls! And you only feed 4 ball colostrum to newborns. Most of us have an antifreeze tester in our shop somewhere. Or they only cost about $5-10.00. Check your local auto parts store.

These facts and rules of thumb should help you out with calving season starting right now. It is very, very important to get that colostral intake done by 18 hours of life.

Tim E. O’Neill, DVM
PO Box 87
Farmington, Ar. 72730
cvs@cvsvet.net
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