Wednesday, April 25, 2018

More Evidence on Tube vs. Bottle feeding of Colostrum

Work of a Canadian group focused on movement of colostrum through the G-I tract when feeding 3L of colostrum. They compared outcomes when colostrum was fed with a nursing bottle or an esophageal tube feeder.

The outcomes are summarized:

" Therefore, even if colostrum enters the rumen when fed with an esophageal tube, when a large enough volume of good quality colostrum is delivered, the IgG in the colostrum that reaches the small intestine could be sufficient to saturate the receptors and meet maximal absorption of IgG." page 4173.

As a by-product of their work the results emphasized that early feeding of high quality colostrum in adequate quantity can result in very desirable levels of antibody transfer. Compared to the "usual" levels of efficiency of antibody transfer (around 35%), these calves had 50% efficiency of antibody transfer.

Desjardins-Morrissette, M. and Others, "The effect of tube versus bottle feeding colostrum on immunoglobulin G absorption, abomasal emptying, and plasma hormone concentrations in newborn calves" Journal of Dairy Science 101:4168-4179 May 2018.

Friday, April 20, 2018

Calf Notes - A Site to Bookmark

The site URL is

Dr. Jim Quigley has been adding CalfNotes to this site for 23 years - lots of resources. Available in English, Spanish, Chinese and now he is adding notes in Portuguese.

The CalfNotes are grouped like this:
  • colostrum feeding
  • milk & milk replacers
  • calf starters
  • health management
  • weaning
  • housing
  • older heifers
  • primer in calf nutrition
  • entire list of 200 CalfNotes in numeric order

Thursday, April 5, 2018

Colostrum Council Post on Oligosaccharides in Colostrum

In their April 5 post the Colostrum Council [proprietary newsletter of Saskatoon Colostrum Company, Ltd.] Amanda Fischer
  • describes the naturally occurring oligosaccharides in colostrum
  • explains their role in gut health
  • describes the role of mannan-oligosaccharides in gut health and
  • cautions us about adding mannan-oligosaccharides to colostrum
Well-written review of technical content that also does a good job of explaining why feeding transition milk (2,3, 4th milking) promotes good gut health.

The post is at this URL if you want to copy it to your browser:,OLJ0,3XQH7V,2IOWM,1

or try clicking HERE

Have you visited this site? is the URL or click HERE.

The drop down menus include:
  • Newborn care
  • Colostrum management
  • Feeding
  • Housing
Recent posts?
  • Neonatal calf diarrhea
  • Conditions for Management Group Housed Calves
  • Is bloat causing sudden death in  your calves?
  • Is your colostrum management working? (tips for using refractometers)

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Late Winter-Spring Scours in Calves

This is the title of April 2018 calf management newsletter. Click HERE to go to the newsletter. Enjoy.

The main points:
·        Wide variation among dairies during late winter – spring season for scours treatment rates among preweaned calves.
·        How can management affect scours treatment rates?
·        What is the right scours treatment rate among preweaned calves for my dairy?

If you know of a person that would like to receive a monthly e-mail when the new issue is posted on-line send an e-mail to to be added to this service. If a dairy wants to receive a hard copy to share with calf care folks send the mailing address to the same e-mail address. 

Friday, March 30, 2018

When to Introduce Calves into Automatic Feeder Pens?

If one wishes to reduce the treatment rate for bovine respirator disease (BRD) among neonatal calves that will be group housed for automatic feeders when should the calves be introduced to the autofeeder/group pens? 5 days, 7, 9, 11, 13 days old?

The evidence seems to be inconsistent and somewhat confusing. One study will show earlier will result in lower BRD rates while another will show later has the same outcome.

A recent study seems to point at another factor tied to BRD rates. That is, when calves receive the same amount of milk (between 6 and 8 liters per day) in  the first two weeks of life the rate of BRD does not seems to differ regardless of when the calves are moved from individual to auto feeder group pens.

This evidence points at reduced milk intake at the key factor in higher BRD rates among neonatal calves. Often calves being held in individual pens before moving into the auto feeder group pens are only fed limited (usually 4 liters per day) milk. The longer calves live on a restricted ration the higher the chances of being diagnosed and treated for BRD. 

Thus, the authors conclude,
"Therefore, we suggest that if introduction to the group (that means to the automatic feeder) is going to be delayed, calves should have access to high milk allowances immediately after colostrum feeding." (p2306)

I might add from my experience trying to bring neonatal calves up on milk that the passive immunity of the calves seemed to make a big difference in my success. Calves that had plenty of clean good quality colostrum soon after birth drank like there was no tomorrow. The calves that missed out on colostrum (I bled calves at 48 hours for blood serum total protein testing - ones that tested 3.5 - 4.5 on a clinical refractometer I called "missed out") took what seemed for ever to come up on milk. And, these calves with poor colostrum management were much more likely to have scours, too.

Reference: Medrano-Galarza, Catalina and Others, " Associations between management practices and within-pen prevalence of calf diarrhea and respiratory disease on dairy farms using automatic milk feeders." Journal of Dairy Science, 101:2293-2308. April, 2018.

Friday, March 23, 2018

Why the Rush to Feed Colostrum?

A recently reported study fed colostrum at 45 minutes, 6 hours and 12 hours after birth. All colostrum was tube fed. The calves received 7.5% of their birth weight in colostrum. 

For example, a 90 pound calf received about 3.25 quarts of colostrum. At 62g/l concentration of antibodies in the colostrum this 3.25 quarts came to 190g of antibodies in this feeding. The average for all calves was right around 195 to 200g at first feeding. 

From blood sampling they determined the efficiency of absorption of the antibodies (IgG).

The average efficiency of absorption of antibodies were (by time of feeding):

45 minutes     52%
6 hours           36%
12 hours         35%

In case you didn't want to figure out the amount of improvement, the 52% efficiency of absorption for 45 minutes represents a 44 percent improvement compared to the 6 and 12 hours feeding procedures.

Fisher, A. J., and Others, "Effect of delaying colostrum feeding on passive transfer and intestinal bacterial colonization in neonatal male Holstein calves." Journal of Dairy Science 101:30299-3109 April 2017.