The first colostrum: plenty, quickly, often, fresh and supplemented in case of emergency

A calf is born with no antibodies against disease. It is therefore of life-saving importance that the calf be given as much colostrum as possible, as quickly as possible. “Every hour following calving, the quality of the colostrum declines by 3%,” explained Erwin Hunneman, young cattle ­specialist at Agrifirm in The NetherlandsIf a cow calves at 11 o’clock in the evening, but is not milked until 7 o’clock the following morning, the quality of the colostrum will have declined by 25%. “This is because the colostrum becomes diluted as the cow produces milk in its udder. It is therefore important to milk the cow as quickly as possible following calving.” In addition to plenty, quickly, often and fresh, Erwin adds one further qualification: supplemented. “This is only in case of emergency. When a calf needs directly colostrum and the quality turns out to be not sufficient for a good immunity. In all other situations bad colostrum quality should be solved by checking the dry period management. The best way to supplement colostrum is by adding high-quality freeze-dried cattle colostrum. This enables you to upgrade medium-quality colostrum to high-quality.”  Colleague Johan Verdaasdonk made one further suggestion for supplementing colostrum: “by inoculating dry cows. The result is additional antibodies in the colostrum for example against rota-corona diarrhea.”

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