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COLOSTRUM AND CALF DIARRHEA: (Part 1)

Good calving and colostrum management can prevent calf diarrhea in many cases.

 

Calves are born without antibodies. The cause of this is the thickness of the placenta. This makes it impossible for antibodies to enter the bloodstream of the unborn calf via the cow's bloodstream.

Fortunately, nature has come up with a good alternative for this. The cow concentrates its antibodies in the colostrum.

 

More and more livestock farmers recognize the added value of this colostrum when it comes to disease prevention and the build-up of antibodies in the calf. Vaccinating the cows in a timely and targeted manner during the dry period lays the foundation for a good resistance in the calf.

 

BUT:

Is “providing lots of fresh colostrum, often,” also sufficient?

When do we know whether the colostrum is of good quality, and what is good colostrum quality?

The thickness or color of the colostrum says nothing about its quality.

The quality of colostrum can only be determined by measuring.

High-quality colostrum contains sufficient immunoglobulins (Ig).

These antibodies are proteins produced by vertebrates in response to antigens.

IgG Immunoglobulins play a crucial role in cows.

Antigens are the foreign substances such as viruses, bacteria or large molecules.

 

SOME POINTS OF ATTENTION REGARDING COLOSTRUM SUPPLY:

 

 

1. The quality of colostrum is directly linked to the dry matter content.

The more dry matter, the better the quality of the colostrum produced.

Cow's milk contains +/- 12.5% dry matter, fresh colostrum of good quality contains more than 25% dry matter.

If the calf receives colostrum with 27% dry matter or more, the animal rarely develops disease problems.

 

2. You can measure the dry matter content in different ways:

- via an external laboratory, this usually takes too long.

- with a colostrum meter, this is a rough method and the (glass) instrument is often fragile.

- with a “Brix” meter or a Refractometer. This device is user-friendly and very accurate.

 

3. Does the amount of colostrum to be provided determine a good start?

Some give a lot of colostrum and then assume that everything is okay.

It is of course always better than no colostrum, but you don't really know what you are feeding!

 

4. Quality levels of colostrum:

                                              High quality colostrum contains > 99 mg / ml IgG,

                                              good quality colostrum contains > 49 mg / ml IgG,

                                              moderate quality colostrum contains 26-50 mg / ml IgG,

                                              low quality colostrum contains < 26 mg / ml IgG.

 

I myself use the standard that the calf should take in 200 grams of antibodies as soon as possible after birth.

This means 4 liters of (good quality) colostrum, within 6 hours after birth.