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Discover Calf Colostrum and Colostrum Pasteurisation

Colostrum, also known as ‘first milk’ is the milk a cow produces when giving birth. As well as being high in energy, it contains a variety of antibodies to give the calf immunity to the diseases to which the mother is immune.

The calf is born without immunity to any diseases as antibodies are not passed through the placenta.

Within the first day of the calf being born, its stomach will allow antibodies to pass through into the bloodstream. This transfer allows the calf to receive antibodies from its mother, and thus immunity and resistance to those diseases and illnesses to which the mother is resistant.

However, the time available for this transfer is short. While the stomach lining allows antibodies to pass through at up to 48 hours after birth, studies show that intake is greatly reduced after just 6 hours, and the ideal time is less than half an hour after birth.

Without colostrum, the calf’s immune system will be left at a disadvantage

The calf will be at risk from common diseases that may be present on your farm which the rest of your herd have developed immunity to.

While it’s vital that a calf receives colostrum soon after birth, it’s also important to be aware that as with normal milk, pathogens can be carried within colostrum that put calves at risk.

For this reason, it’s advised that your cattle's colostrum is pasteurised. Pasteurisation at 60°C will remove the pathogens that cause diseases, while retaining the important immunoglobulin G.

Diseases that Pasteurisation can prevent include:

  • Mycobacterium avium subsp.paratuberculosis - ‘Johne’s Disease
  • Tuberculosis
  • Mycoplasma spp. - causes mastitis and pneumonia
  • Salmonella spp.
  • Listeria monocytogenes
  • Escherichia coli
  • Campylobacter spp.
  • Staphylococcus aureus and other mastitis streptococci

It’s recommended that calves be fed colostrum from their herd, in order to develop immunity to local illnesses. However, there are times when real dams colostrum may not be available, or ideal.

For instance, for calves in cattle health schemes, or that may require a negative blood sample for AI studs or international trade, will need to be free of local diseases. For these instances, colostrum powder is available such as our IBR EliteColostrum. In addition to colostrum, Yolk-Ay Calf Pastes are designed to assist calves in the first few weeks of life with their nutritional needs.

Getting your own cow’s colostrum

How long does it take you to milk your newly calved cow? Did you know that the quality of your colostrum decreases by 3% per hour. This means if your cow calves at 7pm and isn’t milked until the next morning milking, 12 hours will pass and you will have a 36% loss in colostrum quality. Our Portable Milking Machine will help with this.

At G Shepherd Animal Health we provide a complete range of Calf Health Products for measuring quality (the colostrometer), collecting and pasteurising colostrum, storing, and feeding colostrum to calves (Perfect Udder System). 

For more information and advice on colostrum, please check out our dedicated Resources Centre or click here for the latest news.

Related Documents

Related Videos

  • A video from Rick Dumm Showing how to use the perfect udder bags

  • A short Film about Perfect udder bags




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