Just Fill Shake and Feed Oxford Ag’s calf health solutions in the patented perfect Udder Feeding System make it easy to give’em the good stuff
Published on Mon, 11/07/2016 - 3:45pm
By Steve Weisman
It’s 2:30am and one of your heifers just delivered her first calf. This newborn must learn how to use muscles it has never stretched, breathe
air into lungs that have never before expanded, and by instinct alone, find its first meal - quickly. The mother has been preparing this meal for the past several weeks. This is no ordinary meal. It’s colostrum, and it is the most important meal of the calf’s life.
As warm colostrum flows into the calf, it provides the heat necessary to get it going. Vitamins A and E are present at levels 6-10X higher than that of regular milk, (See Colostrum Contents chart) and it provides a depot of other minerals as well. Fat and protein levels far exceed that of a normal meal, dispensing the needed energy to get all systems up and running. Most importantly for the calf, the colostrum contains maternal antibodies, or immunoglobulins (Ig), and other critical immune factors that will serve as the defense system for the calf through the first months of life. Without these immunoglobulins, the new baby has no immune system to combat bacterial, viral and parasite challenges. This process is called Passive Transfer and life for the calf depends on this wholesale stockpiling of nutrients and immune factors.
There are 4 key factors that contribute to the goal of successful passive transfer of immunity:
1. QUALITY - Feeding high quality colostrum with a high immunoglobulin concentration
2. VOLUME - Feeding the correct volume of colostrum
3. SPEED - Feeding colostrum promptly after birth (ideally within 1-2 hours and by 6 hours maximum)
4. BIOSECURITY - Minimizing bacterial contamination of colostrum
Many things can influence the mother’s ability to produce and deliver high quality colostrum such as; Adequate Nutrition, Properly Timed Vaccination Programs, Udder Development. Even in a healthy cow, colostrum quality decreases by about 3% every hour that she is not milked. A 10-12 hour delay can mean as much as a 35% reduction in the amount of Ig her colostrum contains, and each subsequent milking produces fewer Ig benefits as it transitions from colostrum to milk.
Volume of colostrum is critical since only 35% of the immunoglobulin (Ig) will be absorbed. For the calf to have functional passive immunity, it needs 10-20 grams of Ig in each liter of blood. With less than this amount, the calf will remain highly vulnerable. The math is pretty simple. The calf must consume 3X more Ig than it can absorb.
Speed of Delivery
Immunoglobulins are the basic/building blocks of immunity for all mammal babies. Although some are able to absorb these important proteins while still inside the mother’s womb, the calf is not so lucky. Mother Nature dictates that immunoglobulins are transferred from mother to her calf via the colostrum it consumes in the first feeding. These immunoglobulins are transferred through specialized cells in the calf’s small intestine that temporarily allow the absorption of large molecules and carry them to the blood stream. This has to happen quickly because these cells are only open for a short time. The intestine is most receptive during the first few hours after birth and steadily declines to nearly 0 at 24 hours after birth. By the end of that first day, the specialized cells are replaced with normal epithelial cells and the opportunity for Ig absorption of immune factors is over.
During the process of Ig absorption, some pathogens have learned to take advantage of the security breech in the intestine. It is a free ride into the bloodstream of the calf with potentially life-threatening consequences. We have all seen these calves. They are the ones with severe diarrhea and death at day 3-5 from E.coli and Salmonella; the calves with swollen joints all over their bodies by the time they are 20 days old due to mycoplasma; and the sick calves at 2-3 weeks of age without the nourishment and immunity to keep crypto at bay.
Calves without colostrum, what we call Failure of Passive Transfer (FPT) are 3X more likely to become ill and require medical intervention, and unbelievably, they are 10X more likely to die before they are weaned1. Furthermore, there is good research to show that calves with FPT are more likely to be chronic poor-doers with reduced productiveness for their entire lives (See Colostrum & Performance chart). The lost ground can never be regained.
When the calf gets little to no colostrum, we as the caretakers must offer a supplement, or even a complete replacement product, to help it achieve its full potential. This investment is also simple math and it’s where Oxford Ag Calf Health Solutions, in the patented Perfect Udder® Feeding System, help make this stressful situation easier to handle.
What is the Perfect Udder®
Oxford Ag represents the Beef division of Dairy Tech, Inc., a pioneer in on-farm pasteurization of milk and colostrum for dairy calves. Dairy Tech is the creator of the patented Perfect Udder® feeding system currently used for colostrum management on dairies worldwide. The simple, but unique design allows raw colostrum to be collected, heat-treated, cooled, stored, warmed and then fed to the calf all from the same, single-use, bio secure bag. When a calf is born, a bag can be removed from the freezer or refrigerator that it is stored in, then warmed to the perfect feeding temperature. This ensures that each calf can receive the correct amount of high quality colostrum quickly. There is no need to wait until the cow is milked. The bag of colostrum is then fed directly to the calf via an attached tube or nipple. No clean up.
While this process works very well on a dairy, it fails on a ranch. It simply is not practical to collect and treat beef cow colostrum and total replacement programs are too costly to be the norm. Oxford Ag’s primary purpose has been to develop a high quality colostrum supplement and replacer that capitalizes on the easy-to-use Perfect Udder® Feeding System.
Colostrum Supplements & Replacers
There are many great products on the market, but if you’ve ever tried to mix powdered colostrum in the middle of a cold, wet night, you already know the hassles that go with them.
10 Steps to traditional colostrum feeding on a ranch
Step 1. Check cows and discover the calf in need.
Step 2. Return to the barn and look for your old favorite pouch of colostrum.
Step 3. Find a bucket.
Step 4. Go to the house for the warm water … remember the whisk or the blender … do not announce the use of the whisk or blender to other family members. Beat the product into solution.
Step 5. Find the calf bottle. Likely in the bed of the truck from the last time you used it.
Step 6. Clean the bottle and look for a new nipple since the dog ate the last one.
Step 7. Fill bottle and return to the calf. Hope that it drinks.
Step 8. Return to barn for a feed tube even though now the colostrum is cold and won’t be absorbed worth a hoot.
Step 9. Scramble for safety from the cow who has seen enough torment for one night.
Step 10. Wash your dishes: Tube, nipple, bottle, pail and whisk.
Fill the bag to the mark with warm water
Shake to mix
Attach to the included feeding tube and Feed.
That’s it. Throw it all in the trash when you darn well feel like it. Get some sleep. No mess. No dishes. Convenient and immediate.
Oxford Ag Colostrum100 Supplement and Oxford Ag Colostrum150 Replacer are both derived from high-quality dried colostrum, not serum or blood, and specially formulated to allow complete mixing without the whisk workout. What really makes their products special is that they are packaged in the patented Perfect Udder® Feeding System which makes them ridiculously easy to use.
When to use Colostrum100 Supplement:
● Heifers that might need time to learn mothering
● Extreme weather when nursing might be difficult to assess
● Heifers with questionable volumes
When to use Colostrum150 Replacer:
● Cow is injured or otherwise unable to feed calf
● Heifers that refuse the calf initially
● Cows with mastitis or extreme swelling making nursing difficult
● Lost calf or other scenarios that might delay nursing in the first day
In a perfect world, the first meal a newborn calf consumes would always consist of nutrient rich colostrum that transfers immunities and other growth factors from its dam. Since we don’t live in a perfect world, sometimes it is necessary to use a colostrum supplement or replacer. Why not make your life and your calf’s life a whole lot easier. Try a bag of Oxford Ag and you’ll never want to tear the top off another foil bag ever again. Just Fill, Shake and Feed. It really is that simple.
For more information about these and other Oxford Ag Calf Health Solutions, please visit OxfordAg.com.
1. Stilwell, G et al., Can Vet J. 2011 May; 52(5): 524-526 Courtney, A et al., Defining FPT in S Dakota Beef Cal