Newborn calves must rely on the immune protection they receive from colostrum until their own immune system starts to function at around 6 weeks of age. Dr. Kimberly Morrill, Cornell University Extension Dairy Specialist, says it is important to deliver high-quality colostrum to every newborn calf within the first hours of life. Specifically:
- Calves should receive their first feeding of high-quality colostrum within 4 hours of birth.
- The longer you wait, the less IgG the calf is able to absorb.
- The less IgG the calf absorbs, the more susceptible it is to disease pathogens, such as those that cause scours and pneumonia.
- Calves should receive a minimum of 10% of their bodyweight in colostrum within the first 4 hours of life.
Source: Cornell University Cooperative Extension dairy fact sheet, by Kimberly Morrill, PhD.