How to ensure that good quality colostrum is fed?

To control the colostrum management in a herd, it is important to make a system where the calves’ level of IgG is examined. This is done by a blood sample of the calf between 1-7 days after birth. A representative sample must be taken to assess the herd level. If more than 90% of the tested calves are above 10 g/l then the colostrum management is satisfactory. If a larger proportion is below 10 g/L, it is important to review all procedure to find possible optimization points. 

Quality, quantity, speed and hygiene are the parameters that are important to achieve a satisfactory IgG level in the calf. 

  • Quality: the colostrum quality is measured immediately after milking by a colostrometer or by a Brix meter. The goal must be that 90% is above 50 g/l, which corresponds to 22% on the Brix meter 
  • Quantity: to obtain adequate supply of immunuglobulins it requires 3-4 liters at first feeding 
  • Speed: the reason why it is important to add colostrum quickly after birth is due to the ability of the intestinal wall to absorb immunuglobulins decreases rapidly and after 24 hours the ability has disappeared. The goal is to give colostrum within the first 1-2 hours after birth 
  • Hygiene: it is possible to do hygiene checks on colostrum to see how hygiene procedures work while handling colostrum. A sample of the colostrum is taken just before the first feeding and then a germ count is done. There should be less than 100,000 CFU / ml in the colostrum.