Watch Out for Poor Quality Colostrum
In 2014 the National Animal Health Monitoring System completed a calf study involving 104 dairy operations in 13 states. This was an 18-month longitudinal study involving 2,545 heifer calves. Holstein calves made up 89% of the population. By herd size, the study included:
- Small (30-99cows) 20%
- Medium (100-499 cows) 32%
- Large (500+ cows) 48%
They evaluated colostrum fed to calves. Using the threshold of 50g/L IgG based on 2,263 individual colostrum samples they found that 23 percent of the samples failed.
That same information stated another way, nearly one calf out of four was fed inferior quality colostrum! I guess we should not be surprised to learn that so many preweaned calves have scours and pneumonia.
Based on the number of dairy operations, only 17% of the 104 operation had 90 percent of their colostrum testing at or above 50g/L. Ten percent of the farms (about 11) did not have even 1 sample that was acceptable (at or above 50g/L). Did that fact hit home for you? All of the calves on these farms (10% of the total 104 operations) were fed inferior quality colostrum.
Test - don't Guess!
If you are not already evaluating your colostrum quality before using it for first feeding of newborn calves now is the time to make the change.
Click HERE to go to a guide for using a Brix refractometer to assess colostrum quality. [If the link does not work here is the URL http://atticacows.com/library/newsletters/ColostrumTestingRefractometerR18119.pdf] Both optical and digital refractometers are available for on-farm use. In this study of 104 dairies only 17% were using a Brix refractometer to evaluate colostrum quality.
Note that other colostrum resources are at www.calffacts.com - just scroll down to the word colostrum.