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Colostrum: Quantity, Quality and Timeliness

Libby Eiholzer, Bilingual Dairy
Northwest New York Dairy, Livestock & Field Crops

Last Modified: June 10, 2013

We all know that feeding calves adequate amounts of high quality colostrum, and feeding it fast, is an essential part of getting them off to a good start. But do your employees understand just how critical this is? Share this refresher course on colostrum management with your Spanish-speaking employees, and brush up on your own Spanish so that you can get the message across.

Colostrum is the milk produced by cows prior to calving. It contains key nutrients to promote healthy growth, such as protein, vitamins, minerals and energy, as well as antibodies (or immunoglobulins, IgGs) to prevent disease. Since the calf's ability to absorb IgGs decreases quickly after birth, it is important to feed colostrum as soon as possible. Standard recommendations are to feed 4 quarts of colostrum within the first few hours after birth. You should strive to feed at least 50% of calves within the first hour after birth, which is the time in which they can most efficiently absorb IgGs.

While quantity and timing of colostrum feeding are important, quality should certainly not be forgotten. If possible, IgG levels should be measured using a Colostrometer to ensure that the antibody concentration is sufficient. Since colostrum provides a great medium for bacteria growth, utmost care should be taken to sanitize all containers (buckets, bottles, nipples, tubers, etc.) between uses and to cool colostrum quickly after milking if it will not be fed immediately.

Below you will find a few easy phrases to help you communicate the importance of high quality colostrum for healthy calves.

Calostro: Cantidad, Calidad y Puntualidad
El calostro es la leche producida por la vaca inmediatamente antes del parto. Contiene nutrientes claves como proteína, vitaminas, minerales y energía para promover un crecimiento sano, además anticuerpos (también conocidas como inmunoglobulinas o IgGs) para prevenir las enfermedades. Como la capacidad de la becerra de absorber las IgGs disminuye rápidamente después del nacimiento, es importante darla calostro lo más pronto como sea posible. La recomendación estándar es dar un galón de calostro dentro de las primeras horas después del nacimiento. Debe esforzarse dar de comer a por lo menos 50% de las becerras dentro de una hora después del nacimiento, como eso es el tiempo en que pueden absorber las IgGs con más eficiencia.
 
Mientras la cantidad y la puntualidad de la alimentación de calostro son importantes, no hay que olvidar la calidad. Si es posible, midan el nivel de IgGs con un Calostrometer para asegurar que el nivel de anticuerpos es suficiente. Como el calostro es un buen caldo para el cultivo de bacterias, hay que siempre desinfectar todos los envases (cubetas, botellas, biberones, tubos, etc.) después de cada uso y enfriar el calostro rápidamente después del ordeño si no lo van a usar inmediatamente.
 
Aquí se puede encontrar unas frases fáciles para ayudarle a comunicar sobre la importancia de calostro de alta calidad para becerras sanas.

Colostrum Handling El Manejo del Calostro
Always cover the colostrum pail Siempre tape la cubeta de calostro
Put the colostrum in the refrigerator Ponga el calostro en el refrigerador
Measure the IgGs in the colostrum Mida el nivel de IgGs en el calostro
Feed the calf quickly after birth Dela de comer rápidamente después del nacimiento
Feed the calf a gallon of colostrum Dé la becerra un galón de calostro
Disinfect the bottle Desinfecte la botella

Reference:
Leadly, Sam. Calf Facts. 



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Upcoming Events

2019 Corn Silage Pre-Harvest Workshop - Penn Yan

September 17, 2019
10:00am to Noon
Penn Yan, NY

Corn silage harvest is drawing near. The way corn silage is harvested and stored is a single event that affects your operation for the entire next year. Are you prepared to set your operation up for success? 
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Ontario County Fun on the Farm

September 21, 2019
11:00 am- 4:00 pm
Seneca Castle, NY

Fun on the Farm works to educate non-farm public and our neighbors about agriculture around them. It is fun and educational.

Fun on the Farm attracts thousands of people and gives us the opportunity to communicate to the community the benefits of the agricultural production in Ontario County, the state, and the nation.

The event is free! There are many agricultural products that are available to be sampled. It is the perfect place to try that product you have seen in the store but didn't want to commit to purchasing.

Food is available to purchase for lunch. It is provided by a local service group.
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Bovine Reproduction and AI Training Course

September 24 - September 25, 2019
9:30am - 3:30pm
Shortsville, NY

**CLASS IS FULL**

This two-day AI workshop will be held on September 24 and 25. 

Topics covered will include:

• Reproductive Physiology
• Synchronization Protocols
• Heat Detection
• Artificial Insemination
• Proper Thawing of Semen
• Loading A.I. guns
• Practice Breeding Cows

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Announcements

Preventing Sexual Harassment on Farms

If you're wondering how to get your farm business in compliance with NYS Sexual Harassment Regulations, you've come to the right place.  The 2018 New York State budget included new regulations addressing sexual harassment in the workplace that became effective on October 9, 2018 for all New York employers, including agricultural employers. All employers are required to have a sexual harassment prevention policy and to provide annual, interactive sexual harassment prevention training for all employees.  Check out the resources developed by Cornell Ag Workforce Development, including step-by-step instructions and farm-friendly training videos.


RMA Announces Additional One-time Changes to Prevented Planting Provisions

June 29, 2019

RMA Announces Additional One-time Changes to Prevented Planting Provisions
for 2019 Crop Year

In response to delayed and prevented planting resulting from above average rainfall and wetness, the USDA Risk Management Agency has made a one-time change to the 2019 crop year prevented planting rules that effectively allows silage corn, if planted as a cover crop following local agricultural expert guidelines, to be acceptable as a post-prevented planting cover crop. Under this one-time rule change, producers are allowed to produce this crop while retaining their prevented planting payment. This change couples with previously announced one-time changes to the prevented planting rules - including expanded acceptable uses for post-prevented planting cover crops and a change in the cover crop haying and grazing start date rule - serve to help those struggling to meet their forage needs due to the weather.

Read the full article from the New York Crop Insurance Education Program.

The USDA-RMA states that "For crop insurance purposes, a cover crop is a crop generally recognized by agricultural experts as agronomically sound for the area for erosion control or other purposes related to conservation or soil improvement." PRO-DAIRY specialists Joe Lawrence and Karl Czymmek and Dr. Quirine Ketterings, Professor and Director of Cornell Nutrient Management Spear Program have released a letter stating "Corn on Prevented Planting acres meets these objectives."


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