In 2009, the Dairy Calf and Heifer Association took a proactive industry leadership role in setting production standards for Holstein calves from birth to six months. The association's goal in developing the Gold Standards is to raise success level of its membership and the entire dairy calf and heifer raising industry.

To help reach the Gold Standard for colostrums management, Gary Neubauer, senior veterinarian at Pfizer Animal Health offers these tips.

If your calves are not achieving a blood serum total protein of >5.2 g/dL for maternal-source-colostrum and are having problems, check for the Big Four - "Quality, Quantity, Timing & Contamination."

  • Quality - use a colostrometer & make sure colostrum is free of blood, debris and mastitis
  • Quantity – 10 percent of body weight
  • Timing - within the first 4 hours of life
  • Contamination - culture colostrum for bacteria (<100,000 CFU/mL)

Colostrum Protocol


  • Fresh cows move to milking area within 2 hours of calving.
  • Milk fresh cows before sick or treated cows.
  • Cow preparation is identical to routine parlor practices.
  • Milking equipment is serviced and sanitized between cows and between milking.
  • Save a frozen sample for future reference (bacterial contamination).
  • Save colostrum for calves only if the cow or heifer meets these criteria:
    • Johnes ELISA test negative
    • Healthy
    • No mastitis
    • Has not leaked milk
    • No bloody milk
    • Has been dry at least 45 days and in the transition group for a minimum of 14 days  

Labeling and Storage

  •  Fresh colostrum is put into 4 quart calf bottles or ziplock containers.
  • Each container is marked with cow ID and date of collection.
  • Colostrum not fed within 2 hours is placed into a clean refrigerator with a preservative (potassium sorbate)
  • Colostrum > 7 days old is discarded.


  • Calves are moved out of the calving area immediately after birth.
  • One single meal of first milk colostrum (from a single cow) is given to newborn calves.
  • One gallon of high quality colostrums needs to be fed within one hour after birth (esophageal feeder).
  • An additional two quarts should be fed six hours later if applicable.

For more information on the DCHA Gold Standards, click here.

Source: Dairy Calf and Heifer Association