It is known that drinking the right amount of colostrum milk from newborn calves can be one of the most important factors in preventing calf washing and its causes. This is especially true if the cow is vaccinated against washing in the weeks leading up to the birth of the calf. The antibodies that cows develop naturally and with the help of a vaccine are transferred to calves via colostrum.
There are several important considerations that farmers need to keep in mind when setting up a calf health system to ensure colostrum is consumed properly according to best practices.
Give the calf colostrum within hours of birth
In the first few hours of life, calves can absorb important antibodies that are transmitted through the colostrum. The golden rule to remember is that the calf must receive antibodies before the pathogen has a chance to infect the calf. These antibodies are key to developing a strong calf immune system.
Provide calves with the required amount of colostrum
Since the correct consumption of colostrum has proven to be very important for the health of calves, many breeders choose to inadvertently dispose of it. In fact, only about 40% of dairy calves get enough colostrum from their mothers if left alone.
Many owners, especially dairy farmers, take steps to ensure that calves drink at least two to three liters of colostrum by collecting colostrum from heifers immediately after birth and then bottle feeding the calves.