Colostrum, or first milk from cows, sheep or pigs, is chock-full of antibodies, energy and essential nutrients that can benefit the newborn animal.
Receiving adequate colostrum, quickly enough, could eliminate Watery Mouth E. Coli infection in lambs, halve cases of pneumonia in calves, improve the survival rate in new-born pigs up to weaning age and beyond – and support the responsible use of antibiotics.
But at busy times of year, we don’t always have time or resources to make sure every animal gets enough colostrum, or gets it quickly enough. That’s why the RUMA Alliance, which ensures farm animal medicines are used responsibly in the UK, has created this campaign along with its members.
What are the recommendations for feeding Colostrum?
Calves: Feed high quality (>50 mg/ml of antibody) colostrum at 10% of body weight within 4 – or ideally 2 – hours of birth. A calf needs to suck for approximately 20 minutes continually to drink enough colostrum in the first feed.
Lambs: Rule of thumb is 210–290 ml colostrum/kg body weight in the first 24 hours of life to give a lamb essential levels of natural immunity. But importantly, the first feed should be within 2 hours of birth.
Pigs: Newborn pigs should be suckled within 30 minutes of birth to get sufficient colostrum on board to meet their energy requirements, and have frequent and easy access to teats thereafter.
Sufficient quality colostrum fed quickly:
- Stops lambs succumbing to Watery Mouth
- Halves risk of pneumonia in calves
- Improves survival rate to weaning in pigs
- Is linked generally to better health, lower mortality and higher daily liveweight gain
See RUMA’s #ColostrumIsGold factsheet for more facts, figures and references.
Lend your voice to #ColostrumIsGold this February. Support by giving us hints, tips, the benefit of your experience or your pledge about managing colostrum [link], and we will post and tweet the message.
Or tweet your advice or ideas using the #ColostrumIsGold hashtag.
Get ideas and inspiration
If you need more information, visit our resources page where there is a bank of useful tools, films and ideas to get you started.