Heat stress and colostrum quality

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Heat stress impairs the colostrum quality of dairy heifers close to calving.  

Research shows dairy heifers exposed to a Temperature Humidity Index of 82 compared to a THI of 65 produced lower concentrations of immunoglobulin G (IgG), IgA, total protein, lactalbumin, fat and lactose in their colostrum.

Care of youngstock, including timely feeding of IgG-rich colostrum, is part of the quality animal care practices that demonstrate your commitment to beef quality. Good colostrum management sets the foundation for strong immunity in dairy animals, helping them maintain health and prevent infections.

According to the Dairy Animal Care & Quality Assurance (DACQA) Certification manual, newborn heifer and bull calves need prompt and sufficient feedings of high-quality colostrum (or equivalent replacement product) to ensure they develop an effective immune system. All calves — whether they are kept on the farm or sold — should be fed in a way that promotes health and minimizes the risk of disease.

Guidelines for the care of youngstock can be found on page 13 in the DACQA manual. Section IV of the DCHA Gold Standards I and Section II of the Gold Standards III provide guidelines on colostrum quality, harvest, handling and feeding.


DACQA is a voluntary, national certification program intended to enhance and demonstrate quality animal care practices that assure food safety, quality and value as well as enhance consumer confidence in the milk and beef products harvested from cattle on America’s dairy farms.

DCHA is the only national association dedicated to serving the dairy calf and heifer industry. The association strives to provide information, education and access to leading research and technology to its members and the calf and heifer industry. DCHA’s Gold Standards III also offers practical recommendations for humane handling of dairy calves and heifers, from birth to freshening.



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