Why is colostrum so important?
Colostrum is important for the passive transfer of immunity to newborn animals.
It’s critical that newborns receive high quality colostrum in the first 12-24 hours after birth to maximise the absorption of immunoglobulins (antibodies) directly into their bloodstream.
Immunoglobulin Gs (IgGs) comprise the largest fraction of antibodies in colostrum. IgG content is a critical factor when assessing the quality of colostrum.
During the process of passive transfer of immunity, IgGs pass through the walls of the gut to be absorbed directly into the bloodstream.
The window for optimal passive transfer of immunity is about 24 hours; after which the walls of the gut close and IgG can no longer directly enter the bloodstream.
Access to high quality colostrum is critical for optimal passive transfer of immunity
To ensure IgG content of maternal colostrum is adequate, we recommend a brixmeter test which will show you the milk solid (MS) %.
It’s internationally accepted that if maternal colostrum measures 22%MS with a Brixmeter, then the IgG content will be approximately 50g/L.
To achieve 100g IgG transfer (the minimum IgG requirement for passive transfer of immunity to occur), a calf should be fed a minimum of 2L of colostrum measuring no less than 22%MS (50g/L IgG) in their first feed.
A lamb or goat kid needs a minimum of 10g IgG within the first 12 hours of life.
Failure of Passive Transfer (FPT) occurs when a baby animal fails to obtain or absorb adequate quantities of IgG antibodies from colostrum in the first 24 hours of life – making it susceptible to disease and death. And affecting long term productivity.
How much colostrum is needed?
Feed a minimum of 10% of the birth weight of the young animal as liquid maternal colostrum in the first 12 hours of life.
Ideally, maternal colostrum should be fed in a minimum of 2 or up to 4 feeds and it should be high-quality – ie measuring 22% milk solids (MS) in a Brixmeter test which equates to approximately 50g IgG/L. Quality colostrum is also high fat and high protein.
Ready to find out more?
To learn more about the make-up of colostrum and colostrum management, download the AgriVantage guide to Colostrum for Ruminant Animals.