Thursday, October 30, 2014

How Long Does It Take for Colostrum to Move Out of the Rumen?

This was the question I was asked last evening at a calf raisers' meeting. "If I feed a calf her colostrum with an esophageal tube feeder how long does it take for the colostrum to move out of the rumen into the abomasum?"

In 1978 a research project looked at stomach tubing calves (A. Molla, "Immunoglobulin levels in calves fed colostrum by stomach tube." Vet Record 103:377-380). Colostrum was fed at the rate of 81ml/kg live weight or about 3.4 quarts for a 90 pound calf. The report states that colostrum moved "efficiently" from rumen to abomasum. Bottle-fed and tube-fed calves achieve similar levels of immunoglobulins in their blood. Although this suggests fairly rapid emptying of the rumen the author did not specify a definite time.

Subsequently, Hopkins and Quigley (B.A. Hopkins and J. D. Quigley III, "Effects of methods of colostrum feeding and colostrum supplementation on concentrations of immunoglobulin G in the serum of neonatal calves." Journal of Dairy Science 80:979-983, 1997) compared nipple-fed calves with those fed with a stomach tube. All the calves were offered 4 quarts of colostrum; some of them were nipple-fed only and others were stomach  tubed. As part of their methodology they determined emptying rates for the rumen. They reported a 3-hour rate for the total volume of colostrum fed to move from the rumen into the abomasum.

Both of these studies fed greater than 3 quarts of colostrum.

What about smaller volumes? Two studies that fed variable amounts of colostrum (that is, 1.6 and 3.2 quarts) showed that when the smaller volume was fed with a stomach tube the delay in rumen emptying significantly depressed IgG levels in the calves.

Click HERE to read the November 2009 issue of Calving Ease newsletter, "Using a tube feeder: yes or no." The results of the two studies with different methods are shown. Enjoy. 

1 comment:

Anon said...

There is a larger 1977 study by Dr. Aberra Molla at Colorado State University.
Some dairy farmers routinely stomach tube all new-born calves to provide colostrum and be certain that they will absorb sufficient antibodies to enhance their immunity against diseases.