Not Enough Colostrum?
Test! Adjust Feeding Volume by Quality.
On Friday, August 10th, I posted "Stretching Your Supply of High Quality Colostrum." This suggested that feeding a somewhat lower volume of high quality colostrum may give adequate levels of circulating antibodies for newborn calves. This post expands on this idea.
Research completed this past year at Penn State University suggests a way to make a limited supply of colostrum go farther when feeding newborn calves. Test and adjust volume?
They divided their colostrum supply into three categories: high, medium or low.
Measuring actual antibodies (IgG) they found these quality differences:
high 92.5 mg/ml
medium 59.4 mg/ml
low 48.0 mg/ml
They fed the calves and tested blood 24 hours later.
The blood serum total protein levels went up as colostrum quality went up - no big surprise.
high 24.8 mg/ml
medium 22.2 mg/ml
low 18.0 mg/ml
Now, of special interest, was the efficiency of absorption of the antibodies fed.
When they compared the absorption results from calves fed the medium and high quality colostrum they found the calves had absorbed about the same amount of antibodies regardless of the volume of antibodies fed.
The calves fed medium quality colostrum had an efficiency of absorption of 38 percent while calves fed the high quality colostrum had a lower level of efficiency - only 25 percent.
The authors suggest that "there may be an upper limit to amount of IgG absorption in a given time period." (p277)
Bottom Line? If colostrum supply is low, using a smaller volume (for example, 3 quarts) of high quality colostrum for first feeding may work as well as a larger volume (for example, 4 quarts) of medium quality colostrum.
Reference: Saldana, S. L. and Others, "Effects of difference heating time of high, mediumj and low quality colostrum on IgG absorption in dairy calves." Journal of Dairy Science, 101, Supplement #2, p 277 #T175, 2018.