Colostrum boost


Mineral supplements boost cows as well as colostrum

July 12, 2013

Colostrum boost

Mineral supplements for dry cows are known to build up nutrient reserves ahead of calving, but studies also suggest a direct link between supplements and the quality of colostrum which is essential to set up calves for their best start in life.

The studies, by Penn State University and funded by the Animal Health Commission of the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture in the United States, showed a marked difference in colostrum quality when fat, protein, lactose and total solids were measured.

The lowest samples were so poor that calves receiving those colostrum samples as a first feeding could not have obtained enough nutrients to get them off to a good start. Among the best were samples from cows fed dry cow minerals.

“Minerals and vitamins fed to dry cows directly impact colostrum,” says Ballance’s Jackie Aveling, an Animal Nutrition Manager.

“In addition to ensuring cows are replacing their trace element and vitamin reserves ahead of calving, the use of a molasses block like Crystalyx Dry cow can influence colostrum quality.”

Calves need 3-4 litres of colostrum (approximately 10% of their birthweight) within the first 10 hours to provide the newborn calf with sufficient antibodies to protect the calf from blood poisoning/ navel infection or scours. New Zealand studies have shown only 50% of calves will naturally get this amount of colostral protection under New Zealand conditions.

In calves the principal role of colostrum is to provide immunity against infection and disease, such as scours. Mrs Aveling says the Penn State study also showed a wide variation in the immunoglobulin content of colostrum sampled. Again, the cow’s diet ahead of calving can contribute.

Attention to nutrition ahead of calving will pay dividends in the health of both the cow and her calf. At Parma University in Italy a study confirmed that feeding Crystalyx Dry Cow pre-calving increased colostrum protein, fat and total solids content and significantly increased colostrum yield and more than doubled the yield of colostral immunoglobulins.

“For dry cows, supplements build up reserves promoting a strengthened immune response to help withstand challenges post calving. By aiding rumen performance and digestive efficiency, Crystalyx Dry Cow helps ensure a good appetite post calving, which in turn promotes better lactation, and enables the animal to replenish its body reserves in preparation for mating. In particular, feeding supplements helps to maintain optimum blood magnesium levels, so reducing the risk of milk fever.

“For calves, the benefits are a better start in life, especially for calves being raised as replacement heifers.”

Local farmers continue to see the benefits of Crystalyx as part of their winter management programme, with Northern Taranaki farmer Kevin Ingram saying the product is “another tool in fine-tuning outcomes for the season.”

12 July 2013

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