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HomeBeefVIDEO: ‘Do not feed calves colostrum from other farms’
Catherina Cunnane
Catherina Cunnane
Catherina Cunnane hails from a sixth-generation drystock and specialised pedigree suckler enterprise in Co. Mayo. She currently holds the positions of editor and general manager at That's Farming, having joined the firm during its start-up phase in 2015.
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VIDEO: ‘Do not feed calves colostrum from other farms’

Article on colostrum feeding

According to Dr Jennifer Pearson, DVM, DVSc, colostrum is “liquid gold” for calves as it contains vitamins, minerals, protein and fat.

Furthermore, it also has antibodies – the most common of which is immunoglobulin G – which helps prevent disease in newborn calves.

The Beef Cattle Research Council states that this initial immunity will protect against the likes of scours, navel abscesses, and pneumonia.

“The reason why calves need to consume colostrum from their dam is because they cannot absorb it while they are in utero. That is because of the type of placenta that the calf has,” Dr Jennifer Pearson explained in a video the Beef Cattle Research Council produced.

“So, it is made up of six different layers, which allows oxygen and small nutrients to cross the placenta barrier. However, larger modules such as IGG, cannot cross the placental barrier.”

“In a well-vaccinated herd, when cows have really well vaccinated against common diseases, they will have antibodies in their blood systems that are going to help protect her against those diseases.”

“A couple of weeks before calving, those antibodies are going to go into her colostrum. When the calf is born and consumes colostrum, it can consume those immunoglobulins and absorb for protection.”

Colostrum feeding 

The Beef Research Council outlined that there are several ways to keep colostrum on hand.

However, it believes that the best option is to “always have your own banked supply, by simply freezing bags of colostrum from your own cows”.

The council advises: “do not feed calves colostrum from other farms because of the risk of disease transmission like E. coliSalmonella spp., Mycoplasma bovis and MAP (Mycobacterium avium paratuberculosis, the precursor to Johne’s disease).”

“The best source of colostrum is from your own herd. Colostrum can be milked from the calved cow or collected from another cow on-farm and frozen and stored for up to one year.”

“This ensures the colostrum received provides immunity to the calf from diseases that are specific to that farm and the calf’s environment while maintaining a closed herd.

Concluding, Dr Pearson said: “Colostrum management is crucial to the success of any cow-calf operation.”

“Making sure we get colostrum in a timely fashion into those calves can ensure we have healthy calves to raise.”

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