Farm Talk

Livestock

December 11, 2012

Storing natural colostrum for optimum immunity

Parsons, Kansas — A previous article about commercially available colostrum substitutes has spawned questions about natural colostrum from a cow that lost a calf or from a dairy cow. An important factor that influences colostrum quality (immu­noglobulin concentration) is the age of the cow. Heifers have poorer quality colostrum while older cows have the best quality colostrum. Another very important factor is milking stage. In general, colostral immunoglobulin concentration is halved with each successive milking, therefore the first milking colostrum has twice the immunoglobulin content of the second milking colostrum. Colostrum leakage and premilking both adversely influence colostrum quality. Purchasing colostrum from other farms should be done with caution. Diseases such as Johne’s Disease may be transmitted from one operation to another via colostrum.

Cow calf producers are aware that natural colostrum must be ingested by baby calves within six hours of birth to acquire satisfactory passive immunity. However some calves do not have ample opportunity to receive colostrum. Perhaps the mother is a thin two-year-old that does not give enough milk or the baby calf was stressed by a long delivery process and is too sluggish to get up and nurse in time to get adequate colostrum. These calves need to be hand fed stored colostrum in order to have the best opportunity to survive scours infections and/or respiratory diseases.

Colostrum can be refrigerated for only about one week before quality (immunoglobulin or antibody concentration) declines. If you store colostrum, unfrozen be sure that the refrigerator is cold (33-35°F, 1-2°C) to reduce the onset of bacterial growth. If the colostrum begins to show signs of souring, the quality of the colostrum is reduced. The immunglobulin (very large protein) molecules in colostrum that bring passive immunity to the calf will be broken down by the bacteria, reducing the amount of immunity that the colostrum can provide. Thus, it is important that colostrum be stored in the refrigerator for only a week or less.

How long can the frozen colostrum be stored? We often answer this question flippantly by saying, "just as long as you would store frozen fish to eat!" Colostrum may be frozen for up to a year without significant breakdown of the immunoglobulins. However this is one example where improved technology is not in our favor. Frost-free freezers are not the best for long-term colostrum storage. They go through cycles of freezing and thawing that can allow the colostrum to partially thaw. This can greatly shorten colostrum storage life. Freezing colostrum in one quart in one or two gallon zip-closure storage bags is an excellent method of storing colostrum. Many producers have had great success using the zip-closure bags. Use two bags to minimize the chance of leaking, and lay them flat in the freezer. By laying the bags flat, the rate of thawing can be increased, thereby reducing the delay between time of calving and feeding. The freezer should be cold (-20°C, -5°F)—it's a good idea to check your freezer occasionally. Much more information about colostrum use and transfer of passive immunity is available from the OSU Fact Sheet F-3358 Disease Protection of Baby Calves. £

1
Text Only
Livestock
  • rib_roast.jpg Beef, cattle prices up across the board

    The first quarter of 2014 saw unprecedented prices for all classes of cattle and beef. Retail beef prices moved sharply higher in March for both Choice and All Fresh beef.

    April 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • Stockers015.jpg Pressure builds on cattle prices

    With boxed beef prices down sharply from the second rollercoaster high of the year, fed cattle prices may have peaked seasonally.  
    Fed prices are currently holding mostly steady near $150/cwt. but will likely decrease into May as fed cattle marketings increase seasonally. Cattle slaughter typically increases from April through May to seasonal peaks in June.

    April 15, 2014 1 Photo

  • calving-season_ksu.jpg Shortening breeding and calving seasons

    Calves born in the first 21 days of the calving season are often the heaviest in their contemporary group at weaning, and that advantage often carries through to harvest, if the producer retains ownership.

    April 8, 2014 1 Photo

  • heifers-peel-052_fixed.jpg Late spring adds to cattle challenges

    A myriad of factors are at work in cattle and beef markets now. Spring has arrived according to the calendar but it isn’t obvious yet in many parts of the country. Cold weather continues to delay grass green-up in many regions in a fashion that is reminiscent of last year.

    April 1, 2014 1 Photo

  • Beef Talk: Are your cows ready to rebreed?

    The question of the day: Are the cows ready to breed? I hope the nutritional plan is in place and the cows are doing fine. Although nutritional adjustments can be made if needed, precalving should be a time of contentment for the cow, so all she needs to do is enjoy late-term pregnancy.

    March 25, 2014

  • How much is a good bull worth?

    I often get the question “How much should I pay for a bull?” My first answer is “Whatever the market will bear.”

    March 18, 2014

  • cull-cows.jpg Slaughter cow market following seasonal pattern — only more so

    Boning cow prices in Oklahoma City were reported at just over $102/cwt. in the first week of March. This level suggests that March slaughter cow prices will exhibit a more than seasonal price increase.

    March 11, 2014 1 Photo

  • Hollis_ksu.jpg Anaplasmosis a stealthy profit-robber

    For a disease that’s not contagious, anaplasmosis sure gets around.
    Speaking to a whole passle of beef producers at last week’s Animal Health Day in Independence, Kan., K-State Veterinarian Larry Hollis urged area cattlemen to get the costly disease in their sights.

    March 4, 2014 1 Photo

  • Livestock indemnity program retro-funded to Oct., 2011

    USDA announced it will expedite the implementation of its livestock disaster assistance program and will begin accepting applications on or near April 15.

    February 25, 2014

  • charherfcow.jpg Ark. cattle numbers up despite trend

    Arkansas cattle numbers are recovering nearly two years after the start of a drought that caused $128 million damage to the state’s beef industry, while national numbers plummet to their lowest levels in more than 60 years.

    February 18, 2014 1 Photo

Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide
Seasonal Content