Past research has indicated that newbom calves receiving colostrum that results in high blood levels of antibodies have greater survivability, whereas, those calves receiving low levels from colostrum have greater mortality and morbidity. The purpose of this is to suggest possible ways of ensuring high blood concentrations of antibodies in new born calves. In addition, Colostrometer applications and proper usages will be discussed.

Suggestions for Ensuring High Blood Antibody Levels:

  1. Newborn calves should be fed one to two quarts of fresh colostrum with high concentrations of antibodies (superior quality) as soon after birth as possible (within 4 hours is optimal) to maximize antibody absorption. The later colostrum is given, the less effective the absorption process.
  2. Newborn calves should be fed one to two quarts of the superior quality colostrum every 12 hours for the first 24 hours of life. Lesser quality colostrum may then be fed after 24 hours as an excellent nutrient source as well as a prophylaxis against disease. 
  3. To ensure the collection of superior quality colostrum, only collect and pool colostrum from first and second milking fresh cows. Do not pool with mastitic or abnormal milk! Prior to feeding, the quality or antibody concentration of the pooled colostrum should be verified, using a Colostrometer. 

Colostrometer Applications:
The quality of colostrum may be monitored to ensure that only superior quality (high antibody concentrations) colostrum is fed to newborn calves. In many instances, "colostrum" is obtained from the milking parlor with little regard to quality. The fresh cows are sometimes milked along with the mastitic ones, and their milk pooled. This then is fed to newborn calves as "colostrum" and may not contain sufficient antibodies to be of benefit to the calves. The Colostrometer may serve as a basis of instituting a colostrum quality control program that begins with properly collecting colostrum and ends with feeding newborn calves at optimal times. In addition to a quality control program, collected colostrum may be diluted with milk, to a level that is still considered superior in quality, and fed to a greater number of newborn calves.

Instructions For Using The Colostrometer:
The Colostrometer may be used in any suitable container that provides adequate depth so as not to touch the bottom of the container at minimum antibody concentrations (see diagram below). The Colostrometer should be gently lowered into the colostrum; until it floats freely; avoid wetting the unsubmerged portion. After allowing the instrument to stabilize, read either the quantitative or color coded scale at the top of the colostrum. All foam and scum should be removed from the area immediately surrounding the scale to avoid errors in reading. For accurate measurement, the colostrum to be measured should be near room temperature (72°F/22°C). If only colostrum quality (color coded sale) is being assessed, then slight temperature deviations will not appreciably alter the results. After each use, the instrument should be rinsed with cold water to remove colostrum build-up and subsequent displacement errors.

The plastic cylinder is 14” long; the glass Colostrometer is 11.25” long.

The Colostrometer is fragile as it is made of glass. Handle with care!

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