Colostrum, without bacteria, please

The first colostrum delivers the essential antibodies to the calf. One vital precondition is that the colostrum be gathered cleanly. ‘Is the mini milker clean? And what about the cow’s udder? Also make sure the materials you use are thoroughly cleaned. The capacity to absorb antibodies from the colostrum declines rapidly over time. Six litres of colostrum during the first 24 hours is the minimum quantity to give your calves optimum protection. A livestock farmer knows that when administering colostrum, there are three essentials: plenty, quickly and often. In terms of hygiene, another element is also important: fresh. The first colostrum is the best colostrum, with the highest level of antibodies. ‘Within one hour following calving, the quality has already fallen by 3%,’ explained Erwin Hunneman, young cattle ­specialist at Agrifirm. If the volume of colostrum is sufficient, it is preferable to also use the first colostrum for the calf’s second and third feed. However, make sure that the first colostrum is stored refrigerated. ‘Bacterial growth in colostrum is enormous,’ explained Erwin. ‘If colostrum is left standing for just two hours, the number of bacteria will have risen by a factor of 32.’ In other words, make sure you always have a refrigerator in which you can store the colostrum.