Tuesday, March 19, 2013

"Problems with Frozen Colostrum
 
 Yesterday during our on-farm meeting in Essex two problems emerged concerning frozen colostrum.
  • Farmers said, "It takes too long to thaw it out so I can feed the calf!"
  • I observed that the three farms freezing extra colostrum were putting colostrum directly into the freezer directly after milking the fresh cow.
Too long to thaw       I asked how they packaged the colostrum for freezing. "In plastic containers. You know, one or two litre bottles that milk comes in from the market."
 
Ah, the root of the  problem now emerges. Too little surface area exposed to the hot water. We talked about using freezer-quality self-sealing plastic bags - one litre in a four-litre bag - get lots of surface area for quicker thawing. I could see the "aha " moment on two of the women's faces as they worked out the way they would use this idea at home.
 
Warm colostrum going into freezer    After a brief review of how rapidly bacteria multiply in colostrum at cow body temperature we talked about how slowly freezers actually chill colostrum. Lots of opportunity the first couple of hours for bacteria to multiply.
 
Using an empty bottle that was at hand we went through a demonstration of how bottles of frozen ice could be used to rapidly chill freshly-collected colostrum to 16C. The herdsman on our host farm, Jody, observed, "We should do that for the colostrum we save from the morning milking to feed to a calf that afternoon. Wouldn't that be better than letting the colostrum sit warm in the milk room all day?"
 
Now, that comment really made me feel good.
 
By the way,  for lunch at our host farm we sat in the old barn now used as a shop. It seemed to have really old beams so I asked about its origins. The owner, Nick, said he really didn't now exactly when it was built - just sometime in the late 1600's. 
 
   

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