SCCL, a leader in developing and producing innovative colostrum products, provides tips for knowing when and how to feed calves colostrum.
How do good colostrum feeding practices impact calf productivity?
The single, most important meal your calves will consume in their lifetime is the first feeding of colostrum.
However, the impact of good colostrum feeding practices is often overlooked. Good colostrum feeding practices and feeding more colostrum can lead to 1) improved average daily gain; 2) reduced treatment costs and; 3) better feed conversion efficiency. Improvement in these three areas offers financial benefits to your dairy.
When do calves need a colostrum supplement or replacement?
There are many instances when your calves should be fed a colostrum product. For example, calves born in very cold weather, twin births and calves born to first-calf heifers benefit from colostrum supplementation. However, calves born with difficulty are at greatest risk for failure of passive transfer of immunity since they are often slow to get up and suckle. Additionally, these calves’ ability to absorb antibodies may be compromised due to the delay of nursing and altered metabolic parameters. Whenever a calf is born with intervention or assistance, the calf should receive at least a supplemental dose of colostrum, if not a full replacement dose.
When should colostrum be fed?
With each minute that passes after birth, a calf’s ability to absorb antibodies is reduced. By 24 hours the gut is almost completely closed and can no longer absorb antibodies. Therefore, colostrum must be fed as soon as possible after birth, ideally within an hour. If colostrum has been delayed past 2 hours, feed larger amounts to compensate for reduced absorption.
How much colostrum do calves need?
When it comes to your calves and colostrum, more is better. Most veterinarians recommend calves receive at least 1 gallon or 4 liters of good quality colostrum, which should provide at least 200-300g of IgG.
Good quality colostrum replacers can be used when the dam does not provide sufficient volume or where colostral quality/IgG/antibody concentration is low. A significant percentage of first-calf heifers produce only small volumes of colostrum, sometimes less than 1 liter, so their calves would benefit from a colostrum supplement or replacer.
New USDA National Animal Health Monitoring System data shows calves with 8 g/L serum IgG (indicative of failure of passive transfer of immunity) had a 40.3% chance of becoming ill and 5.2% risk of mortality. In comparison, calves with excellent passive immunity - indicated by serum IgG levels of 30 g/L or higher - had a 29.3% risk of illness and 2.0% risk of death.
If feeding 300g of a colostrum replacer, it is recommended to divide the colostrum into multiple feedings. Do not feed the entire amount at once.
How should colostrum be fed?
First, attempt to bottle feed your calf. If the calf does not consume the entire bottle or colostrum feeding is delayed past 6 hours, tube feeding the remainder is suggested in attempt to achieve successful passive transfer of immunity. Since absorption slows significantly as each hour passes, calves also benefit from a second and third feeding of colostrum.
Should cold weather calves be treated differently?
Calves have a thermal neutral zone of 59 to 77°F (15 to 25°C) and many are born in conditions much colder than that. Calves need a timely feeding of colostrum to warm them by providing energy to produce body heat. (Note that bottle fed colostrum should be warm but not too hot to immerse your hand in.) Colostrum contains unique colostral fat that initiates metabolism of brown fat stores, which fuels the calf’s internal furnace for heat and energy to get up, suckle, stay warm and stay alive.
Can you use colostrum from your cows, and if so, how?
Herd colostrum can be used to supplement calves of other dams, but to be done right, it is a demanding process. Colostrum should be collected with sanitized equipment within 2 hours after birth of the calf. Then, it should be tested with a refractometer to measure quality; only colostrum that meets parameters consistent with high IgG/antibody levels should be used. The colostrum should be cooled in small 1L or less containers as quickly as possible since bacteria numbers double every 20 minutes. Then, the colostrum should be stored in a refrigerator for no more than 48 hours or frozen for no more than a year. Avoid repeated freezing and thawing as this may reduce colostrum quality and lifespan.
What should you look for in a colostrum product?
Examine ingredient labels carefully. Colostrum products can be made from various sources; however, the greatest benefits come from feeding actual colostrum rather than formulas of proteins and fats from other sources. Colostrum-based products contain all the immune, metabolic and growth factors naturally found in maternal colostrum.
One important ingredient is colostral fat. Colostral fat is essential for activating brown fat metabolism, an important energy source required by the calf immediately after birth. Products that contain blood or whey with added vegetable and animal fats not naturally found in colostrum do not provide the same benefits for the calf, and some of these products contain no actual colostrum.
Also, look for products that are regulated by the USDA (United States) or CFIA (Canada) and backed by numerous safety and efficacy studies published in scientific journals.
What colostrum products are available through GENEX?
GENEX offers an array of colostrum products to meet your needs whether feeding a full replacer or a supplement. Calf’s Choice Total® HiCal Colostrum, Calf’s Choice Total® Gold, PureStart™ Colostrum and Genesis Colostrum are available online or through your local GENEX representative.
*OMRI is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that provides an independent review of products against the organic standards. Acceptable products are OMRI Listed® and appear on the OMRI Products List© or OMRI Canada Products List©.
GENEX focuses on bringing you both quality products and quality people. This summer, these two focus areas are combined in a new initiative – an internship program for students passionate about the dairy industry!
For 10 weeks, some of the next generation's top talent will focus on the GENEX herd care products – such as RumiLife® CAL24™ nutritional supplement – and the benefits these products bring to your herds. The interns will work in specific geographies across the USA sharing the herd care line products with you while gaining real-world job experience and increasing their dairy industry knowledge.
Please welcome the 2019 Herd Care Line interns and look to them for special product promotions throughout the summer! Read more about each intern below.
Austin Wright, Purdue University
Austin was born and raised in Greencastle, Indiana, located west of Indianapolis. He grew up on a small family farm. In the past 20 years he and his family have dabbled in many species. For a short time, they raised pigs, goats and beef cattle. Today, they raise what the family has for generations: show lambs and Ayrshires.
In high school, Austin was involved in 4-H and FFA, filling leadership roles with both organizations. This spring, he’s finishing his sophomore year at Purdue University, studying agribusiness with a focus on finance and pursuing certificates in both entrepreneurship and industrial selling.
At the university, he is involved with the Agribusiness Club, Block & Bridle and the swine interest group. He also worked at the university sheep farm. Off campus, he has worked at the Hickory Hall Polo Club and Hill View Arabians. Upon graduation, he hopes to find a career in agriculture sales or lending. This summer, he looks forward to working with GENEX members and customers in Michigan.
Samuel Looper, California State University
Samuel is completing his sophomore year at California State University-Fresno where he is majoring in agricultural education with an emphasis in animal science.
While attending Fresno State, he enjoys competing in speaking and career development contests like the California’s Young Farmers and Ranchers Association discussion meet. Samuel is also an officer in the Fresno State Young Cattlemen’s Club and Block & Bridle Club. In addition, he puts on leadership development trainings for prospective students.
He’s involved outside the classroom too. Between high school and college, he took a year off to serve as a California State FFA Officer. He also interned with Veregaal Brothers, Inc. and worked at a beef feedlot and cow‑calf operation.
Post-graduation, Samuel wants to work in sales within California's dairy or beef cattle sectors. He is excited to start his GENEX internship and work with producers in California and the Northwest.
Laura Frye, South Dakota State University
Laura hails from Logansport, Indiana, and is completing her senior year at South Dakota State University (SDSU) earning her bachelor’s degree in dairy science and minor in food safety. During college, she was active in Dairy Club, worked at the SDSU dairy farm and showed the university’s Brown Swiss cattle at the South Dakota State Fair.
During her time in 4-H and FFA, Laura developed her prefix of registered Brown Swiss cows, Miami Hills Swiss. She enjoyed showing her Brown Swiss show cows at local, state and national shows including World Dairy Expo. This past summer, at the National Brown Swiss Convention, Laura was named senior showman, had the top genomic merit heifer and earned the youth achievement award. She also served as the Indiana Brown Swiss Queen in 2014 and 2017.
Following completion of the internship working with GENEX members in Eastern Wisconsin, Laura aspires to find a career in the dairy industry.
GENEX now offers RumiLife® M Drench™ nutritional supplement, a ready-to-use oral electrolyte for beef and dairy cattle.
RumiLife® M Drench™ nutritional supplement is an oral supplement specifically formulated for your post-fresh cows. It provides bioavailable sources of nutrients to promote fresh cow health during the transition period. The supplement includes calcium propionate and calcium chloride as highly available forms of calcium. It also includes magnesium sulfate for replenishing magnesium and regulating calcium; potassium, chloride and sodium for electrolyte replacement; glycine for optimal electrolyte absorption; and dextrose for added energy.
“The product works to replenish calcium to help the onset of milk and colostrum production,” states Liz Binversie, GENEX Herd Care Line Advisor. “It also provides a source of electrolytes which are necessary for regulating the amount of fluids throughout the body, which affect cellular function, blood volume and blood pressure.”
RumiLife® M Drench™ nutritional supplement comes in a 0.5 lb. bag. Mix one bag to five gallons of water or two bags to 10 gallons of water per cow daily, up to three days.
Help your cows block intramammary infections throughout the dry period with the new UdderLife™ OptiShield™ teat sealant from GENEX. This sterile, antibiotic-free, off-white paste contains 62% bismuth subnitrate in a mineral oil base. While it does not treat clinical or subclinical cases of mastitis already present in a dry cow's mammary system, it does help prevent new cases by serving as a malleable barrier in the teat canal, much like a cow's own keratin plug.
Unlike other teat sealants, this product comes with additional benefits:
› The tube contains minimal air, forming a solid plug seal in the teat’s streak canal.
› The partial insertion tip allows for consistent application and less risk of placing the tip too far inside the teat.
› It’s made in the USA! It’s shipped directly to you from the manufacturing plant located in the USA. There are no backorders or wait times!
As with any product, following proper application procedures are important for best results. Watch as Kim Egan, DVM, explains how you should apply UdderLife™ OptiShield™ teat sealant.
UdderLife™ OptiShield™ teat sealant comes in a 4g tube with 144 tubes per pail – that’s enough to administer to 36 cows. For more information, contact your local GENEX representative or call 888.333.1783.
Procuring your calf care products just got a little easier as GENEX introduced ReMOOV™ horn paste, an easy-to-use caustic paste that inhibits horn growth. This product contains a mixture of calcium hydroxide and potassium hydroxide in an aqueous glycerine gel. Using the paste over other horn growth inhibiting methods means:
› Less stress to the animal
› No expensive equipment
› No bad smell
This new product has even more great features:
› ReMOOV™ horn paste is packaged in a uniquely designed syringe that measures out the perfect amount of paste needed for each horn button.
› The syringe also has a special tip enabling precise application to the horn bud.
"Not only does the syringe make this product easy to administer but it is also less painful to the animal, less stressful for the animal and you, and there is not bad burning smell like there is with hot irons," states Bob East, senior manager of the GENEX herd care line.
ReMOOV™ horn paste is available in 1.6 oz syringes that can disbud approximately 24 animals. They are packaged at six syringes per box.
Click here to learn more or purchase online today.
Connect with us to learn how our world-class cattle genetics, progressive reproductive solutions, and value-added services can advance your operation. Click here to contact us today!