Thursday, April 2, 2015

Cooking Antibodies is So Easy

I asked the routine questions about colostrum management on a recent farm call. We got to the point where we were talking about using frozen colostrum.

The farm was carefully following best management practices in collecting and freezing colostrum. 

We then moved on to thawing and feeding this colostrum. We went through the thawing process step-by-step. 

1. Turn on hot water tap and let it run until hot (same water source as used to wash the parlor).
2. Place two nursing bottles of frozen colostrum into 5-gallon pail.
3. Fill with hot water up to top of bottles. 
4. Wait about ten minutes, dump out water and refill with hot water. 
5. Wait until the colostrum turns to slush, shake bottles, push rapid-read thermometer through vent hole in nipple in order to monitor colostrum temperature, dump out water and refill with hot water.
6. Check thermometer and feed when up to 102F. 

Should work okay. But, how hot is hot water? 

We turned on the hot water tap, let it run until it appeared hot, let it run into a nursing bottle to make it easy to measure the temperature with a rapid-read thermometer. Hmmmm - 160 - 165F.

Let's see - antibodies in colostrum get "cooked" (denatured to be very correct) at temperatures above 140F. 

Each time this dairy was refilled the 5-gallon pail with 160+F water the chances of the colostrum in contact with the bottle surfaces being overheated went up.

We did not come up with a modified procedure at that visit. However, everyone thawing colostrum seems to understand the need to not "cook" the antibodies in the colostrum. 

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