How Urgent is "Sooner" for Colostrum Feeding?
Have you wondered about how soon is soon when you hear colostrum should be feed to newborn calves as soon as possible (ASAP) after birth?
A research group at North Carolina State University collected colostrum feeding data on 100 Holstein heifer calves with unassisted deliveries. Time of first feeding was recorded - all calves received their first feeding of colostrum within the first 4 hours of life. At least four quarts was fed first feeding with some calves receiving a second smaller feeding in the next twelve hours.
They measured apparent efficiency of absorption of antibodies. No difference in antibody absorption rates was observed as long as the first feeding was no later than 4 hours.
Thus, although "sooner" may be better, as long as the first feeding came before four hours calves did a good job absorbing the antibodies in colostrum.
Worth noting was the wide variation among calves being fed colostrum with a common protocol. The lowest absorption rate was 7.7%. The highest rate was 59.9% - wow! The authors suggest a large genetic component in the variation from the average absorption rate of 28%.
Just in case you are not already monitoring the success of passive transfer among your calves a "How To" resource for monitoring can be found by clicking How to Test for Passive Transfer of Immunity"
in our Calf Resource library at www.atticacows.com website.
Reference: Halleran, J., and Others, "Short Communication: Apparent efficiency of colostral immunoglobulin G absorption in Holstein heifers." Journal of Dairy Science 100:3282-3286. March 2017.