January 2020 Calf Blog

January 2020! A New Year, a New Blog Season…

The last few months we have focused on Colostrum and the impact it has on your newborn calf.

Lets talk about the “Liquid Gold” Colostrum and take home ideas for strengthening colostrum management.

  1. Keep good records on colostrum feeding – timing, quantity, quality, periodic checks on bacteria counts. Remember the freezing / thawing process.
  2. Goals: first feeding of 4 quarts of high quality, clean colostrum within first 4 hours of life (large breeds).
  3. Adapt farm protocols to allow colostrum collection as soon as the dam is standing post calving [highest quality colostrum available].
  4. Adapt farm protocols to permit feeding of colostrum within 30 minutes after it is collected (assumes adequate volume and quality). What’s your back up plan?
  5. Adapt farm protocols to permit collection of second and subsequent milking’s (often-called transition milk) and prompt feeding to newborn calves.

Happy New Year…..

Also, if you have questions regarding your calf program or well being of your animals,  please reach out and I will address it in a future blog.

-Minnie

December Calf Blog 2019

Colostrum Freezing and Thawing Process

So the last 2 blogs have been written around Colostrum, the liquid gold!

So, I would like to continue with the topic of Colostrum and discuss the freezing and thawing process.

As you know, colostrum is an excellent source of nutrition and immune proteins that transport protection to the calf.  Because colostrum is so important to the newborn calf, producers need to have options if the cow doesn’t have enough colostrum or the quality isn’t met.  Storing colostrum is one of those options of maintaining a “Colostrum Bank”.

Refrigerating Colostrum: Colostrum can be refrigerated for 1 week before the IgG concentration quality decreases.  Often times you may need to make sure your refrigerator is at the correct temperature.  Set a thermometer in the refrigerator to make sure it holds a temperature of 33-35 F.  Colostrum needs to be chilled as soon as possible to reduce the chance of bacteria growth.  IgG protein molecules will degrade significantly by bacteria growth.  This will reduce the chance for the newborn calf to absorb the IgG’s provided through clean colostrum.

How about freezing: Colostrum can be frozen for up to a year.  Frost Free is not desirable as the freezer goes through freeze-thaw cycles which can change the storage life of good quality colostrum.

Freeze colostrum in 1 gallon or 2 qt. freezer bags (colostrum bags are desired) lay bags flat in the freezer and maintain a temperature of -5F.

Now let’s focus on the thawing process: Our main goal is to thaw the colostrum slowly without destroying the immune protein IgG’s.  The best method is to warm the colostrum to 120F, massaging the bag periodically will help with thawing a bit faster.

The First Nurse Colostrum Pasteurizer/Warmer can help with thawing your colostrum faster.

Have a wonderful Holiday Season!

-Minnie

November Calf Blog

Minimizing Bacteria Replication

So last month I focused on Colostrum and the importance of IgG’s.  I am going to go a step further and discuss the bacteria load and the importance of minimizing the bacteria replication.

The importance of early feeding of colostrum to the young calf is critical to protecting the gut of the calf as well as providing immune protection.  But, there is another reason to feed colostrum early.  Delayed colostrum feeding when the colostrum has been milked from the cow means that the bacteria and other pathogens in colostrum will be allowed to grow.  Referencing the growth of bacteria research from University of California, Davis showed that when colostrum was left at room temperature for any period of time the growth of bacteria was overwhelming.  Within 6 hours, the number of bacteria in the colostrum well exceeded 10 million per milliliter.  Our goal is under 10,000.  This amount of bacteria fed to the calf will untimely affect the health of the calf significantly or even cause death.  This is where the importance of IgG’s and either feeding the colostrum ASAP or chilling/freezing the colostrum comes into play.  All of the steps within the first 2-4 hours after birth are very critical.  I always tell producers; You only get this chance ONCE and then it’s gone.  SO do it well.

Colostrum and other milk products are excellent growth media for bacteria.  Unless the cow calves with mastitis or another infection, there should be little contamination of colostrum.  Be sure to minimize contamination of milk from the cow by using clean milking equipment, collection equipment, and feeding equipment.  If your colostrum is sitting more than one hour consider pasteurizing your colostrum milk.  When pasteurizing colostrum, the steps before and after are just as critical as the proper feeding of the calf.

Check out our user friendly, easy to use: First Nurse Colostrum Pasteurizer/Warmer to help with your colostrum pasteurizing needs.