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Ask Christine

In this section, you can ask me questions about anything related to the newborn calf. From the time the calf is born and gets its first important feeding of colostrum until it is weaned off milk. Of course you can also ask anything about the coloQuick.




How long can colostrum be stored in refrigerators and freezers?


Science shows that there is a significant growth in bacteria for colostrum stored in a refrigerator compared with a freezer. In a freezer colostrum can be stored for 1 year without damage, in a refrigerator it is recommended not to store for more than 24 hours.

Colostrum samples collected from 67 herds in USA showed that only 19 % of colostrum stored in refrigerators for 24 hours were acceptable for calf feeding, the rest of the samples contained more than 100.000 bacteria.

Using a freezer for storing colostrum is not synonymous with a low bacteria count and there should be focus on hygiene all the way from collection to feeding of colostrum.



Why can the calf not just suckle from its mother which is the most natural method of feeding?


Through many years of breeding the dairy cows udder anatomy and colostrum has changed significant compared with the "natural dairy cow". The consequences of that have meant that if the calf only suckles from the cow there will, regardless of IgG content, be a substantial percentage of calves who will not be immunized sufficiently. Even in herds where the calf is helped with suckling there will be up to 60 % who do not have enough IgG in the blood to be efficiently protected against disease. It remains your choice if allow the calf only to suckle from cows however then you at the same time choose a random outcome regarding immunization rates.

By correct manual allocation of colostrum nothing will be left to random circumstances.


You advise that the calf should have colostrum as fast as possible, how fast is that?


The faster the calf gets colostrum the more antibodies it will absorb. The calves intestine cells are immature at birth and at that time the antibodies, which are proteins, will be able to pass directly from intestine to blood without being degraded to amino acids first.  As soon as the calf is born the intestine  start aging and the absorption rate decreases rapidly. It means that the faster the calf gets its colostrum - preferably within 2 hours, the more antibodies will be absorbed and the stronger the immune defense will become.

Recording the time in the colostrum journal makes it possible to assess if the time for feeding colostrum is acceptable or if the procedure need extra attention. You can find colostrum journals ready to print here: - Click here.

Christine Maria Røntved
CMR On-Site RD.

With primary training in Veterinary Medicine, Christine continued her studies to obtain a PhD in Immunology and Pathology. She was a professor at the University of Folum and now, she is an independent consultant, specializing in calf care.

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