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With the calving season really kicking into gear here in Scotland, Target Vets are happy to be part of the #colostrumisgold campaign for 2018. The campaign aims to raise awareness of the importance of feeding good quality colostrum at the right time, and in the right amounts.

Why is Colostrum important?

Colostrum provides antibodies that form the main parts of an acquired immune system, as well as providing a foundation for life long health. A strong immune system can reduce or prevent the need for antibiotic treatments in the new-born or older animal.

The new-born animal has little body fat, which means it is highly dependent on the fats and carbohydrates in colostrum as a source of energy to maintain body temperature and growth. This is especially important during cold snaps like we've had recently, if a new born is using energy to maintain body temperature, hypothermia can quickly develop. Leaving the calf even more susceptible to illness.

Colostrum provides other nutrients, including;

- Vitamins A, D and E which help increase the absorptive and digestive capacity of the digestive system.

- Enzymes and proteins which suppress growth of certain bacteria and contribute to the immune system.

How much colostrum does a new born calf need?

Give a first feed of equivalent 5% of bodyweight, with a total of 10% over the first 24hrs of life.

40kg calf is 2litres on the first feed and ensure another 2litres over the next 24hrs.

When do I need to give the colostrum or ensure the calf has sucked?

Ideally within 2 hours of birth, 4 hours at the most.

This should then be followed up by a further 2 litres within 12 hours of birth.

A calf requires approximately 20 minutes of continuous suckling to consume enough colostrum in the first feed.

Remember the 3Q's when is comes to Colostrum:

  • Quickly

  • Quantity

  • Quality

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