There are other factors that decrease the absorption of colostrum, including cold weather and poor maternal nutrition. Calves having survived a difficult birth have poorer absorption of colostrum than calves born without difficulty. Even if a calf receives the right amount of colostrum at the right time, a calf surviving a difficult birth is at risk for other problems.
NUTRITION – FOOD AND DRINK, VITAMINS, MINERALS AND MEDICINE
Just like the quality of the colostrum is the result of the nutritional status of the dam, so is the quality of the milk. Cows in poor condition, without adequate energy, vitamins and minerals cannot be expected to provide quality colostrum and milk for their calves.
- Provides antibodies (immunity) for the calf
- Cow colostrum is generally better quality than heifers
- Good quality colostrum requires
- • adequate cow nutrition
- • adequate mineral intake • adequate cow body condition
- • adequate vaccinations (to stimulate the antibodies)
- • Colostrum from the dam is generally best
- Colostrum from high milking cows can be frozen for later use
- Because of Johne’s disease (and other pathogens) be cautious using colostrum from dairy cows
- If you don’t have any colostrum, colostrum supplements are a better choice than milk replacers in the first 24 hours after birth
- Colostrum supplement
- Milk replacer
- Calf coat or other way to warm a calf
- Esophageal feeder (get the one with the bag and the shut off valve — not the milk bottle with the short hard tube; that is a great way to drown a calf!)
- Calf electrolyte solutions
- Vitamins A,D,E and selenium (if recommended)
- Learn how to tube a calf!
- Depending on where you are, how close the nearest vet is and how good your skills are you may want to learn how to give IV (intravenous) or subQ (subcutaneous) fluids to your calves.