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Is colostrum quality a concern?

As a Nutritionist, I often field questions from cattlemen on calf scours, weak calves and other calving time disasters.Most all of these questions come after the problem has already set in.While we cannot control the weather that will play a large role in stressing newly born claves, we can control the management of stress in our herds.  

Providing more than just “adequate” facilities/pastures for calving is one management tool that will pay dividends when trying to prevent a scours outbreak. If you are calving in or around buildings, providing a clean, dry area for the cows and calves is essential.A buildup of manure or moisture, as well as other calves that may be sick, are your worst enemies if you calve in a small area.If you calve in pastures, you can reduce the pathogen load normally seen in smaller lots or around buildings.In addition, the University of Nebraska Sandhills Calving System may provide even greater protection to newly born calves. In short, this system suggests you move the pregnant cows to a new pasture every two weeks or so.By leaving the cows with calves behind, you minimize the pathogens that can affect newly born calves in the new pasture.

Nutrition is also a management tool we all control.For spring calving cows, most forages are deficient in the trace minerals and vitamins necessary for production of good quality colostrum.Supplementation of trace minerals, vitamins and phosphorus is then absolutely essential to building the quality of colostrum that will provide the calf with a robust immune system necessary to avoid scours.Supplementation should start at least six weeks prior to calving and may be required all winter (for protein) if low quality forages are used. If you wait until scours become an issue, you will have waited too long.It takes weeks of proper nutrition to build quality colostrum.

In recent years, we have seen a number of supplements with Altech’s®  Bio-Mos® become available to cattlemen to use pre-calving through the end of calving.Bio-Mos® is a mannan oligosaccharide (mos) that attaches to harmful bacteria in the gut of cattle.It has been suggested that this attachment renders the bacteria harmless as it can no longer cause damage to the gut wall.

If you are worried about colostrum quality, take steps to provide some nutritional insurance.CRYSTALYX® Brand Supplements are an easy way to affordably provide protein, trace minerals, vitamins, phosphorus and Bio-Mos® in a supplement block that’s available 24/7, while minimizing your investment in time, labor and equipment.