During the development of the calf in the dam’s body, maternal antibodies cannot be passed on to the foetus via the placenta in ruminants. Thus the calf is born without antibody protection and is unable to form antibodies of its own for several weeks.
The extent of passive immunity is decided in the first few hours of the calf’s life and the reasons for this are as follows:
- The largest number of antibodies is secreted in the first milk and the immunoglobulin content of subsequent milking’s decreases rapidly. The second milking only has 50% of the antibody content of the first milk and on the third day after birth the composition is almost that of normal milk.
- The highest concentration of antibodies in the colostrum is immediately after calving and unnecessary delays in milking the cow thereafter will result in lower concentrations e.g. +/- 20% reduction in milking six hours after calving.
- The highly permeable gut lining allows for maximum antibody uptake through the calf’s intestinal cell walls at birth (100%) and begins to close after birth (50% after six hours and 33% after eight hours). Although the intestinal wall does not absorb any antibodies 24 hours after birth, feeding colostrum will still have a beneficial effect in the intestines.
There are three methods for assessing the Immunoglobulin-G (IgG) quality of colostrum on farm:
Colostrometer – colour coded scale distinguishing between three classes of IgG
Refractometer – measures total serum blood protein (highly correlated to IgG levels)
BRIX Refractometer – measures solids content (closely correlated to IgG concentration)
In addition to providing antibodies which are vital to help protect the newborn calf, colostrum also contains high levels of protein, energy, lactose, vitamins and minerals, making it a concentrated nutritious feed.
Usually maternal colostrum is an adequate source of protection and nutrition for the newborn calf, however, there are instances when this is not possible e.g. poor quality, inadequate quantity produced, presence of disease (Johne’s) and an alternative such as a colostrum enhance or replacer needs to be considered.
Fresh Start® Premium Calf Colostrum is a complementary, easy to mix feedstuff for new-born calves designed to complement or replace maternal colostrum.
- Effective, convenient and consistent supply of IgG in each feed
- Enhances poor or moderate quality colostrum
- Balanced colostrum supplement with essential protein and energy from easily digestible sources
- Proportion of colostrum from natural freeze-dried sources, helping reduce potential competition from other non-colostrum sources
- Product scanning of colostrum proteins ensures levels that are of high standards.
- Supports establishment of a healthy immune system
- Pro-Zest Formulation; soluble ingredients, enriched with digestible fats, natural anti-oxidants and prebiotics
- Certified EBL, IBR and Johne’s free.
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