The importance of feeding a new-born calf sufficient levels of good quality colostrum is well recognised within the dairy industry. A calf is born with minimal immunity and relies on immunoglobulins absorbed from colostrum for passive protection from disease until active immunity develops. Directly after birth a calf is challenged by all sorts of pathogens in the calving pen, calf pens and feeding equipment. The gut is permeable after birth for the immunoglobulins to enter the blood system, permeability reduces rapidly over time, so it’s important to feed colostrum as soon after birth as possible.
Maternal colostrum is the first milk after calving, which steadily declines in nutrient density over time becoming transition milk until its whole saleable milk. Colostrum consists of immunoglobulins (mainly IgG), lactoferrin, growth factors, insulin, hormones and leucocytes, which all play a vital role in calf health.
It is important to test maternal colostrum for quality, if you do not test colostrum you cannot monitor and manage health and future production. Calves need 10% of their body weight of colostrum measured at 22% or over on a Brix refractometer. Faber et al., 2005 found that calves fed four litres in the first few hours after birth averaged 0.23Kg DLWG more when compared to calves that received two litres of colostrum. This resulted in a combined production increase of 1,027 litres in the first and second lactation and 11.4% more heifers surviving to the second location. Furthermore, the veterinary and medicine costs were lower in the group of calves fed the higher level of colostrum.
Colostrum replacers are the best option behind tested maternal colostrum and tested frozen colostrum. Most colostrum’s on the market are intended to supplement maternal colostrum when quality is poor and not to act as a complete colostrum replacer. It must be stressed that it is important to have a discussion with your nutritionist or vet when buying a replacer.
Carrs Billington have recently launched a new natural bovine colostrum replacer, ‘Vitality Premium Colostrum’. This replacer is 100% dried colostrum nothing added in and nothing taken away. Immunoglobulins make up 70–80% of the total protein in maternal colostrum. As this new product is natural bovine colostrum with 100% dairy protein, there are enough levels of immunoglobins to provide full colostrum replacement in the absence of maternal colostrum. Calves are born with minimal fat reserves that can only support the calf for approximately 5 hours. Carrs Vitality Premium Colostrum contains 23% fat levels to provide calves the energy to keep warm and thrive in the vital first few hours of neo-natal life. The fat inclusion in this product is essential as fat also acts as a carrier for the extras such as growth hormones, which traditional colostrum supplements do not contain. Carrs Vitality Premium Colostrum is EBL, IBR, Johne’s and TbB free.
To find out more about Vitality Premium Colostrum, download the PDF here.