Measuring Colostrum Quality
Measuring colostrum quality is a best management practice. It's not difficult to do and the equipment is inexpensive. Guidelines for using a Brix refractometer are found HERE.
A recent report on a survey of dairy farms in Michigan and Ohio included information from 449 farms (56% <100 cows, 39% between 100-499 cows and 5% 500 cows and greater).
They were asked if they measured colostrum quality before feeding it to newborn calves.
Results? The percent measuring were:
>500 cow herds = 25%
100-499 cow herds = 18%
<100 cow herds = 3%
These same producers were asked this question:
"Measuring colostrum quality is useful to make decisions on feeding calves colostrum: (responses were Strongly agree, somewhat agree, neither agree or disagreee, somewhat disagree, strongly disagree).
Of the 43 producers that regularly measure quality 41 agreed with this statement - their attitude and behavior matched.
Of considerable interest to me was that finding that 39% of the farms NOT measuring colostrum quality agreed that measuring quality is useful in making decisions on feeding calves colostrum.
Of those of the opinion that measuring colostrum quality is not useful, 53% also felt that the process of measuring quality was time consuming. That makes me wonder if they had actually observed the use of a Brix refractometer for colostrum quality measurement.
Reference: Pempek, J.A. and Others, "Dairy calf management - a comparison of practices and producer attitudes among conventional and organic herds." Journal of Dairy Science 100:8310-8321.