Colostrum: A Good Start to Life

By Barry Whitworth

During the final weeks of pregnancy, cows begin to develop the first milk. This first milk that the calf will ingest is called colostrum. Colostrum is high in fat and protein which provides the calf a good start in life.

It is full of vitamins and minerals that are essential for certain bodily functions. Possibly the most important part of colostrum is the presence of immunoglobulins. The dam passes immunity to the calf through immunoglobulins. This protects the newborn from pathogens until his or her immune system matures.

When comparing, calves that fail to get adequate amounts of immunoglobulins are more likely to become ill or die before weaning than calves that received adequate amounts of immunoglobulins. Without the protection that colostrum provides, even the calves that survive will perform poorly when compared to the rest of the herd.

Since colostrum is vital to healthy start in life, what can a producer do to ensure that the calf gets all the protection possible? Read more in the February issue of OKFR.