Monday, January 28, 2013

Freezing Colostrum

While at a two-day dairy producer conference in Minnesota this past Thursday and Friday I was asked about frozen colostrum.

After asking a couple of questions for clarification of the producers' questions I discovered the real question was "What is the best way to THAW colostrum?"
The producers already knew (1) that it was possible to freeze colostrum without damaging the antibodies and (2) that frozen colostrum could be stored for a long time without damaging the antibodies. They also knew that they did NOT like to thaw frozen colostrum.

As the discussion progressed I discovered that the most common way to package colostrum for freezing was in a rigid plastic container such as a two-quart nursing bottle, a two or four-quart plastic jug similar to those in which fresh fluid milk is sold in markets. 

So, I stopped my planned presentation and told them this:
  • Make every effort to harvest colostrum without inoculating it with bacteria.
  • Check for quality before freezing - no need to freeze low quality (low concentration of antibodies) colostrum.
  • Chill the colostrum to 60F (16C) before it goes into the freezer - this slows bacteria doubling to once every 2.5 hours rather than once every 20 minutes at cow-body temperature.
  • Package the colostrum in self-sealing freezer-quality plastic bags - load 1-gallon bags with just one quart of colostrum.
  • Freeze these bags in a flat position - think of making "leaves" of colostrum.
Then, I recommended for thawing:
  • Use a water bath with water between 120 and 130F - not too hot to dip your fingers into it.
  • If you put 4 of the flat plastic bags containing 1 quart each into a five-gallon bucket of 130F water it is okay to dump the water after 5-7 minutes and refill with more 130F water.
  • Expect the colostrum to turn into slush in 10-14 minutes and be ready to feed at 105F within 20 to 25 minutes.
If you pour the colostrum into a nursing bottle for final warming try snapping on a nipple and inserting a rapid-read thermometer through the vent hole in order to monitor warming.                        
For a quick check list on storing colostrum Click Here .

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