K-State Veterinarians Discuss Importance of Colostrum

By Trish Svoboda

Veterinarians at the Beef Cattle Institute of Kansas State University stress the importance of nursing calves after birth to ensure they receive colostrum, which provides passive immunity. On a recent Cattle Chat podcast, experts spoke about commercial colostrum replacements and associated risks. Colostrum, rich in nutrients and antibodies, is the first milk cows produce after birth.

“There are a couple options a producer has if a cow had a difficult birth and the calf isn’t getting up to vigorously suckle,” K-State veterinarian Bob Larson said. “The producer will have to give the calf colostrum; if not from the cow, then from somewhere else.”

Dr. Larson recommends purchasing colostrum replacers from stores to avoid the risk of disease transmission that can happen when obtaining colostrum from a dairy or outside herd.

While commercial replacements are not as effective as natural colostrum, they are preferable if the calf is unlikely to suckle shortly after birth. K-State veterinarian Brad White highlights the risks of not providing colostrum to calves, stressing correct administration.

Beginners should seek assistance and observe proper administration to avoid cross-contamination and to ensure colostrum reaches the stomach and not the lungs.

To hear the full discussion, listen to Cattle Chat podcast online or through your preferred streaming platform.

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