Colostrum Does the Job Regardless
Whether It Comes from Mom or Her Sister(s)
In research reported in the Spring issue of the Bovine Practitioner the research team compared outcomes from feeding 4 quarts of colostrum from the calf's dam or colostrum from another cow. All of the colostrum was of good quality (i.e., >90 g/L antibodies). Colostrum was fed soon after birth resulting in only 4 of the 180 calves have a blood serum total protein test value under 5.5 g/dL.
The comparisons were:
- what proportion died (mortality)
- what proportion were ill (morbidity)
- how well did they grow
The number of calves involved were:
- fresh colostrum = 104
- refrigerated colostrum = 40
- frozen colostrum = 36
- fresh colostrum = 5%
- stored colostrum = 4%
- fresh colostrum = 56%
- stored colostrum = 51%
Growth - average daily gain was the same for both categories of calves - the research was done in the summer in north Florida where heat stress generally leads to only modest rates of gain - they averaged just under 1 1/4 pounds a day at 60 days.
The message here is clear - feed plenty of good quality colostrum soon after birth regardless of the source.
Source: L. Judd Sims, Pablo J. Pinedo and G. Arthur Donovan "Health and performance of calves fed fresh colostrum from their dams compared to those fed stored colostrum from non-dams." Bovine Practitioner, Spring 2015 pp 13-17.