When harvesting colostrum, it is imperative to keep cleanliness on your mind. Inflations, buckets, bottles and nipples should all be kept clean along with the animal’s udder.
Before and after feeding newborn calves, Kelly Reed, DVM, ruminant field technical specialist with Diamond V suggests these tips:
- Develop a colostrum protocol – Just like you would develop a procedure for employees to follow when milking, it is also a good idea to develop a standard operating procedure when handling colostrum.
- Use lukewarm water to pre-rinse – “If we use really hot water, we are going to denature the proteins, causing them to stick on surfaces,” Reed explains. “If we use too cold of water, the fat is just going to stay stuck.”
- Soak equipment with hot, chlorinated water – This will help reduce the number of bacteria.
- Vigorously wash calf feeding equipment – Reed recommends vigorously scrubbing calf feeding equipment to help remove any pathogens that might remain.
- Rinse with cold water
- Rinse a second time with an acidic solution – Using an acid-based solution with a pH of 2-3 will help kill any remaining organisms that may have survived.
- Allow equipment to dry– One of the most important steps to help ensure clean colostrum handling equipment is allowing these tools to completely dry. If possible, Reed suggests using drying systems to help remove some of the remaining water.
Colostrum management is really the cornerstone piece to every successful calf program. As with any calf feeding operation, it is important to remain consistent in order to help control the quality of colostrum you will receive.