Researchers at Penn State University have found some significant advantages to heat-treating colostrum prior to feeding.

Standard plate counts for bacteria were cut nearly in half by heating the colostrum to 140 degrees F prior to freezing, storing and thawing it for the calves. Coliform counts were reduced to zero in the heat-treated colostrum.

Meanwhile, calves that received heat-treated colostrum had higher levels of protective immunoglobin (IgG) in their blood than calves receiving unheated colostrum. For example, the total serum IgG concentration of calves receiving heat-treated colostrum was 19 grams per liter at 12 hours of age, compared to 15.8 g/L for calves receiving unheated colostrum. At one week of age, the advantage was 24 g/L compared to 20.4 g/L.

Batch-heat treatment of high-quality colostrum at 140 degrees F for 30 minutes reduced bacteria concentrations and preserved IgG concentration and viscosity, the researchers conclude in this month’s edition of Journal of Dairy Science.