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Colostrum — an opportunity to add value

Tuesday, October 11, 2011   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Dairy Calf & Heifer Association
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Colostrum intake not only impacts calf health, but it also is an opportunity to add value to dairy beef.

"(In beef cattle, we know that) if they don't get adequate passive immune transfer when they're born, they can have reduced weaning weight — up to a 30-40 pound reduction in weaning weight,” says Amy Radunz, state beef cattle extension specialist with the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Performance in the feedlot also suffers, and animals have higher morbidity and mortality rates, Radunz said at the 2011 Dairy Calf & Heifer Conference.

Making sure dairy calves receive a sufficient quantity of high-quality colostrum at birth is an important component of the Dairy Animal Care & Quality Assurance (DACQA) program and DCHA's Gold Standards I.

The DACQA manual states: "The amount and quality of colostrum a calf receives within the first hours of life is universally agreed to be the single most important management factor affecting the animal's well-being as demonstrated by calf mortality and treatment costs as well as growth, performance, and profitability for the first six months of life … and beyond.”

DACQA recommends that all calves receive 2 to preferably 4 quarts of colostrum within the first 1 to 2 hours of life, followed by 2 more feedings within the first 18 hours, which is comparable to DCHA's Gold Standards I recommendations that the first feeding includes high-quality colostrum; for example, a 90-lb calf should receive 4 quarts of colostrum.

Calves also rely on colostrum for the vitamins that help develop the immune system and set the stage for growth.

DACQA is a voluntary, national certification program intended to enhance and demonstrate quality animal care practices, which assure food safety, quality and value as well as enhance consumer confidence in the milk and beef products that are harvested from cattle on America's dairy farms.

The Dairy Calf & Heifer Association is the only national association dedicated to serving the dairy calf and heifer industry. For more information about DCHA and the Gold Standards, visit or call 877-HEIFERS.