Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Nursing Consumption of Colostrum

In a small sample (N=44) of Holstein calves with unassisted births the colostrum consumption was measured. Their average birth weight was 42.8kg [94lbs].

The dams were milked at  the next regular milking shift (2x) and the calves were fed the colostrum from their dams. This resulted in intervals from birth to colostrum feeding time that varied from 20 minutes to 17.8 hours.

All colostrum was fed warm from the dam in a nipple bottle. All the calves were offered 4L (4.2qt) initially. If they drank all 4L then 2 more liters were offered.


"Eighty-four percent consumed >3 L of colostrum. Of the calves consuming <3 L of colostrum, the average colostral intake was 2.7 L [2.9qts] and ranged from 2.4 L [2.9qt] to 2.7 L [3qt]." p6610

The average consumed was 3.6 L [3.8qt] with a low of 1.5 l [1.6QT].

These data support my experiences feeding colostrum with a nipple bottle. For my Holstein calves with an unassisted birth fed in the range of about 2 to 10 hours after birth well over half of them drank two full 2-quart bottles of colostrum and many more drank one full bottle and half or more of the second one.

I used the time while bottle feeding as an opportunity to do a health and vigor assessment on calves. I have to add that on one day when I also was trying to do regular calf feeding and we had 13 newborns I did not bottle feed colostrum to all of the newborns.

A side note on bottle feeding. I always had two nipples with me. One nipple had an "average" opening - that is, small enough to prevent colostrum from running out of the bottle when held upside down yet large enough to permit easy flow for a vigorously nursing calf. One nipple had a "small" opening - that is, small enough so that a calf had to work at getting colostrum from the bottle.

Why two nipples? Most, probably 9 out of 10, calves did just fine with the "average" nipple. However, a small minority had choking problems - as a newborn they could not swallow well enough to clear the back of the mouth consistently when breathing. I found the "small" nipple was quite effective in solving this issue. And, it prevented aspiration of colostrum. My part-time helpers called them the "fast" and "slow" nipples.

Reference: Osaka, I. and Others, "Effect of the mass of immunoglobulin (Ig)G intake and age at first colostrum feeding on serum IgG concentration in Holstein Calves." Journal of Dairy Science 97:6608-6612 2014

No comments: