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Colostrum Management in the Beef Suckler Cow

Published 5th May 2015 | Article by Graham Shepherd

Colostrum Management in the Beef Suckler Cow

Calves weaned per cow bulled is a key determinant of suckler beef business profitability.  Colostrum intake, soon enough and in the correct amount is a key event in calf survivability.  Several cow, calf and environmental factors affect passive transfer.

Calves with inadequate antibody levels were from 3.2 to 9.5 times more likely to become sick and 5.4 times more likely to die before weaning, compared to calves with adequate concentrations of antibodies.

Furthermore, illness in the first 28 days of life was associated with approximately 13kg lower expected weaning weight. 

Despite our awareness of the importance of colostral transfer of Ig to the newborn calf, failure of adequate passive transfer of Igs (FPT) is approximately between 20% and 30% in the USA

A long list of factors effects success of passive transfer.  The two most important factors are age of calf at colostrum consumption and mass of Ig consumed.  Mixed in with these two factors are dystocia, twins, dam disease and vaccination history, dam and calf genetics, dam age, dam body condition score, and dam udder conformation and health.  

Any doubt that the calf has the ability to consume enough good colostrum, soon enough should be dealt with rapidly. Either by giving more good colostrum, measured with a colostrometer, which has been stored in and fed from a Perfect Udder Bag. Or, giving an adequate amount of First Thirst Calf Colostrum Supplement or First Thirst IBR-elite.

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