Value of Transition Milk
During a farm visit last Friday we talked over a persistent problem with scours during the first two weeks of life for their calves.
The farm milks all their cows into a bucket milker for the first four milkings. Currently that milk is diluted with line milk and fed to the calves over four weeks of age.
Recall that compared to first milking (usually we call this colostrum) the second and third milkings post calving have about 70 and 40 percent respectively antibody concentration.
This dairy was feeding this "liquid gold" to the older calves.
My recommendation, especially given the scours issues among the youngest calves, was to change their feeding practices for this "transition" milk. Save it separately - feed it fresh to the youngest calves for as many days as the supply will permit. My best guess is that when this change is made there will be a big drop in scours cases among the young calves.
By the way, they are now checking colostrum for antibody concentration with a Brix refractometer. Any low quality colostrum will be pooled with the transition milk - that will give a nice boost to the antibody content as well.