How to suspect poor-quality colostrum

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The amount of colostrum, time of feeding and quality of colostrum fed are crucial to the future of an individual calf. Jorge Marin Guzman, international nutritionist with Land O’Lakes, outlines several factors that affect colostrum quality. Use them to identify cows that may produce poor-quality colostrum. In these instances, use high-quality frozen colostrum instead.

  • First-calf heifers. Avoid feeding colostrum from first-calf heifers, as the level of antibodies/immunoglobulins in first-lactation heifers is 65 percent of the level found in third-lactation cows.
  • Mastitis. Avoid feeding colostrum from cows with mastitis.
  • Leaking udders. If a cow is leaking milk prior to calving, this indicates that her teats are not sealed and could compromise the quality of colostrum.
  • Length of dry period. Too short of a dry period could lower the quality of colostrum.
  • Ambient temperature. If the ambient temperature is high during the dry period, it can affect the level of immunoglobulins produced in colostrum. A high ambient temperature also can affect immunoglobulin absorption by the calf.
  • Dry-cow nutrition. A low plane of nutrition during the dry period can negatively affect the level of immunoglobulins in colostrum.


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