Colostrum feed can improve yield and culling rates

Inadequate colostrum feeding has huge implications on culling rates and future milk production, said Stephen Acres of the Saskatoon Colostrum Company, Canada, speaking at the recent Large Herd Seminar, Devon.

Failure of passive transfer of immunity to calves via colostrum has short and long-term effects, he said.

“Long-term losses associated with poor colostrum feeding are 3.5 times worse than short term.”

Long-term production losses are about $922calf, with a 21% increase in death losses in the first lactation and an average reduction in milk production of 2.2lb/day over two lactations.

“This equates to a total loss of over $1000/affected calf.”

Feeding higher levels of colostrum in the first two hours of life can significantly improve yield and culling rates.

“Research had shown, calves fed four litres of colostrum produced 550kg more milk over the first two lactations than calves fed two litres. This was valued at $160.”

And, feeding higher levels of colostrum within two hours of birth can significantly reduce culling rates through two lactations.

“Calves fed four litres of colostrum within two hours of birth had reduced culling rate of 14.9% through two lactations compared to 21.5% in calves receiving two litres.”