Farmers Diary: Red colostrum in a newly calved cow
Sunday was a bright and sunny day for all around the country and one of the old ladies of the farm was in the maternity ward. A black angus cow of a whopping 17 years of age has never had a bad calf and has seen us through many a good and bad winter.
Her calving was a straightforward one in that I knew she would need a hand because the calf was a whopper. Jack in hand, my father and I set up the calving gate, coaxed the lady in question into the headlock and set down to our work.
All went well and after a good pull we brought the new bull into the world.
As a rule we stomach tube all our newborn’s after birth. It rules out any concerns about getting the first suck in, and we know that colostrum has got where it needs to be. What’s more by milking out the newly calved mother you break all the seals on her tits making it easier for the calf to suck when he is ready.
The lady in question however had an unusual bag on her because as we broke the seals a thick red colostrum came forward. It was a new one on my father and myself and rather than give it to the calf straight away we did the right think and called our family vet. He advised us it was safe to give to the calf.
The cow had given a poor offering of milk and so the hunt began for some beestons. In the end we used artificial colostrum which not as good in our minds as the real thing does the job fine.
After some reading I learned that red colostrum was a sign of low anti body count in the cow. Its perhaps a reflection on the cow and the summer that was. There wasn’t the nutrients in the ground due to a wetter summer so it’s something that we are now considering for all our ladies. We may need to gets some extra vitamins into the cows before calving 2017 really begins in a few months time. Or perhaps the old cow is getting on and she’s not got the goodness in her anymore.
It’s a case I’ll be observing for a while. Today she is on dairy nuts and some fresh silage. The calf is up and strong.
It was a new one on both of us. But it won’t be one Ill forget. It may be time to cull some of the older ladies from the herd. Like the shepards warning red colostrum at morning is a warning. Yellow at night the suckler man’s delight.