Prioritising colostrum quality pays dividends

Terence Fox milks 50 Holstein Friesian cows at Moygashel in Co Tyrone. Calving all year round, the herd is achieving a high level of performance, combining milk output and quality.

“I have made a conscious effort to address those areas of management that must be improved on an ongoing basis. One of these is calf rearing,” Terence explained.

“We participated in Parklands heifer rearing club where one of the main aims is to calve heifers at 24 months.”

It’s important to give every calf born on the farm the best possible start. And in this context colostrum quality is crucial. I ensure that each calf gets three litres of colostrum within the first two to four hours of life. In addition, calves are kept with their mothers for at least twenty four hours.

It is practice on the farm to store surplus colostrum. However, Terence will only store colostrum that meets the quality criteria required.

“We test all the surplus colostrum with a colostrometer,” he explained.

“It’s an easy test to carry out. I simply pour a sample of the colostrum into a cylinder and then place the accompanying hydrometer in the fluid. If it rests in the green area, then it will be frozen for future use. If I get an amber result then the colostrum is discarded.”

Every cow is different and in this regard Terence is mindful of the fact that some produce smaller volumes of colostrum or lower quality than others.

“Some cows will not produce the initial three litres of high quality colostrum that we want to provide the calf with,” he explained.

“In these cases I fortify the mother’s colostrum with Provita’s Colostrum Concentrate. The powder mixes easily with the colostrum. It is extremely palatable and the calves really thrive when it is offered to them. By taking this approach I have the reassurance that each calf’s immune system is getting the best possible boost.”

Provita’s Tommy Armstrong was a recent visitor to the Fox farm.

“Provita Colostrum Concentrate works in a unique way. It provides a high level of natural EU sourced colostrum, probiotics, added egg powder and vitamins carried in a nutritional energy source, providing 1300 calories” he explained.

“The level of probiotics and energy is higher than natural colostrum so our colostrum gives the calves enough protection and energy to get up and suck themselves. As billions of probiotics are seeded in the calf they grow rapidly and provide a more long term benefit whilst still allowing the calf to build its own active immunity.  It’s easy-mix formula makes it fast and practical to use.”

It is available in 300g sachets, 300g instant mix convenient mixing bottle and a 6x300g multipack. There is a feeder bag free with multipacks at participating outlets, promotion valid only while stocks last.