Boosting Calf Immunity in the Early Stages of Life

The primary objective of a calf rearing program is to provide the new born calf with strong immunity and therefore give her an excellent early start. In the  first few weeks after birth, calves rely only on passive immunity to fight any infectious diseases before they develop their own antibodies (active immunity). The best form of passive immunity is through colostrum which provides important antibodies called immunoglobulins and other constituents that help with immunity. Without colostrum, a calf is less likely to survive.

It is important that adequate quantity of quality colostrum is fed quickly to provide suf cient level of protective antibodies in new born calves. The rule of thumb is to feed at least 2 litres of colostrum (up to 10-12% of body weight) within 12 hours and then again at 24 hours after birth; the earlier and more consistently the better.

Older cows generally produce better quality colostrum; however heifers can produce good quality colostrum as well. Good quality lead feeding with balanced profile 
of essential vitamins and trace minerals can boost the immune status of pregnant cows and consequently the levels of antibodies in their colostrum.

Useful Hints

1. Feed adequate quantity of high quality colostrum promptly.

2. Good quality lead feeding of transition cows can result in high quality colostrum.

3. Additives such as a Coccidiostat can provide some protection against Coccidiosis and thus allow time for calves to develop active immunity.

For more information contact your CopRice Nutritionist or visit the Dairy Australia website www.dairyaustralia.com.au