Can I Strip Out Colostrum and Feed It?
This was the question I was asked by a dairyman as we discussed the challenges of feeding colostrum ASAP. He was wondering if the antibody concentration would be compromised by milking out just enough colostrum to feed the calf?
Fortunately, Dr. Sandra Godden at the University of Minnsota looked into that question. She found that stage of milk out when collecting colostrum does not affect antibody concentration.
That is, the antibody concentration in colostrum is uniform for all stages of milk out. This is different from the fat content that does vary by stage of milk out.
So, my answer was, "Sure, if you can get the cow to stand still long enough to manually harvest 4 quarts of colostrum, more power to you." The first 4 quarts will be just as full of antibodies as the last quart harvested.
What actually happened? They have milker cans that you can see through. He put the milking machine on just long enough to collect a gallon of colostrum. Immediately fed the calf. No risk of bacterial growth in stored colostrum.
Not a solution for everyone but for him it works.
I might mention that this strategy has an advantage of which he was unaware. Collected and fed right away he was feeding viable white blood cells to the calf that end up in her blood. These white blood cells provide instant immunity in the calf just as if they were in the cow. And, they act to provide guidance for the calf's immune system in producing her own antibodies appropriate to the farm where she was born. Just nothing like fresh colostrum!