The dam’s colostrum has the potential to set calves up for success, so why should you consider supplementing or replacing it? There are many times when Mother Nature may fall short either in the quantity or quality of maternal colostrum, in the vigor of the newborn or in the mothering aptitude of the dam. When choosing a colostrum replacer, there are several important factors to consider. As a producer, you want your calves off to the best start possible. The path to high yields begins with healthy calves and this is dependent on a good colostrum management program. One way to help achieve this is by using a high quality colostrum replacer. The calf receives many important factors from colostrum supplying the newborn with immunity, energy, growth and metabolic factors, vitamins and minerals. Calves need colostrum within a few hours after birth while the newborn gut allows absorption of the critical molecules. Without protection provided by colostral immunoglobulins, calves are at risk for infection with pathogens requiring treatment, or even resulting in death. At birth, calves also need to receive colostral fat to kick start its body’s brown fat metabolism for energy production. In cold climates this prevents hypothermia; whereas in hot climates it provides the energy needed to stay cool. Calves have a narrow thermoneutral zone and are sensitive to even small changes in environmental temperatures. Colostral fat provides the immediate energy to get the calf up and nursing. Whether it be for convenience or peace of mind, a colostrum replacer is an excellent opportunity for ensuring and optimizing calf health and herd efficiencies. No matter what that calf is worth, in order to fulfill its potential, you cannot afford to allow it to miss early colostrum feeding or feed it poor quality colostrum.
What can a colostrum product do for you?
- Reduce death loss due to hypothermia, heat stress, and disease
- Reduce cost of treatment and time needed to treat calfhood diseases like scours and pneumonia
- Improve average daily gain
- Save time involved in collecting, testing, storing and warming colostrum
- Improve long-term performance in the milk barn or greater return on investment in beef herds
So what should you look for in a colostrum replacer?
Not all colostrum replacers are the same. Often, colostrum replacers do not even contain colostrum. The easiest way to find out what is in a replacer is to look at the ingredient list. The only ingredient you should see in a quality colostrum replacer is colostrum. Many are formulas made from plasma or whey and vegetable fats or tallow. However, while these products can be very inexpensive, as you probably know, you get what you pay for. Why pay for a product that the calf can only partially utilize and is not guaranteed effective? The colostrum replacers that you can trust have CFIA or USDA Veterinary Biologics permits; this means that every batch of colostrum produced is rigorously tested in the lab and in calves. Specifically, a CFIA or USDA Veterinary Biologics number on a colostrum replacer means that the product is potent, safe, and effective. Look for a replacer made from colostrum that has a high IgG (not “globulin protein”) content, natural colostral fat and has been approved by the CFIA or USDA Veterinary Biologics divisions as an aid in the treatment of failure of passive transfer.
You should use a colostrum product to replace maternal colostrum if you…
. . .wish to reduce the time required to handle your own colostrum, . . .wish to reduce the spread of disease in your herd, … don’t have enough good quality maternal colostrum on hand.
You should use a colostrum product to supplement maternal colostrum if you.. .
. . .want to boost the quality of the colostrum on hand, . . .see a calf attempting to suckle but for peace of mind want to ensure the calf receives enough colostrum, . . .wish to feed small amounts of colostrum in the days following birth for extended immune protection. In order to ensure the best outcome, it is crucial that calves get the best start. And the best way to do that is to use a colostrum replacer that is made from natural bovine colostrum. It is quick, convenient, and proven to be safe, potent, and effective. Your calf is your investment; don’t settle for poor quality replacement products in your colostrum management.