Colostrum: managing the first vital feed

The first two days of any calf’s life are crucial in determining the animal’s resilience and productivity. We strongly encourage farmers to give their calves a healthy start and build immunity by feeding them ample quantities of good quality colostrum.

How colostrum benefits calves:

1) Calves are born without antibodies to pathogens, making them vulnerable to disease. Providing calves with sufficient amounts of good quality colostrum as soon as possible after birth is a highly effective way to ensure they receive the necessary antibodies.

2) Calves are born with a low energy reserve compared to other mammals (see graph) and benefit greatly from a high-protein super fuel like colostrum, provided promptly after birth.

3) Colostrum provides calves with vital ingredients such as hormones, intestinal growth factors and insulin to support digestion of milk solids in the early days of life and develop a healthy gut.

The easiest way to measure colostrum quality

We recommend using a BRIX-refractometer, a simple, inexpensive and accurate tool for measuring the level of milk solids and determining the quality of the colostrum. Every farmer should have one!

Our offering for managing colostrum for calves

LifeStart programme

LifeStart programme

Colostrum management is an essential part of the LifeStart programme. If calves do not receive sufficient quantity and good quality colostrum, LifeStart goals cannot be achieved.

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Colostrum management in the early days of life can make or break the metabolic potential of a calf.
Georgina Thomas, Young Animal Feed Manager

Frequently Asked Questions

How much colostrum should I feed my calves?

Feed them at least 15% of their birth weight, applied in two to three feedings. For example, a 40 kg calf needs four litres of colostrum after birth and two to four more litres during the first day.

When should I feed colostrum to my calves?

Feed calves with colostrum within one to two hours after birth when their digestive tracts will most efficiently absorb the immunoglobulins.

What is the minimum acceptable quality for colostrum?

Use a BRIX-refractometer (0-30% BRIX) to check for a measured value of 22 or higher.

What is the optimal temperature for colostrum?

Feed colostrum at body temperature of 37-38o C. This supports the calf’s digestive system with no loss of body-heat.

Colostrum Protocol Poster

LifeStart Colostrum Protocol poster

Contact Us

Our Youngstock team consists of:

Georgina Thomas - Young Animal Feed Manager

Dr. Laura Tennant - Young Animal Feed Technical Advisor

Contact Us