Colostrum is probably the single most important thing in your new born calves life. Animals need to get the mothers first milk also known as beestons within the first 2 hours after birth.
Its nature’s natural gold as it contains all the nutrients and more importantly anti bodies a young calf needs to survive in this world.
You see calves are born without certain anti bodies to fight off infection and disease these are passed onto the calf by your newly calved cow.
Colostrum from your cow contains IgG (Immunoglobulin G). IgG is the main weapon in fighting these diseases and infections but not all cow colostrum is of a high quality.
Research has shown that IgG levels vary widely from one cow to the next and range from less than 20 to over 100 mg/ml. The difference between 20 and 100 mg/mL of IgG in colostrum can mean the difference between failure and success in passive transfer of immunity. Colostrum containing 50 mg/mL or more of IgG is considered a high-quality feed for new-born calves.
Testing for good IgG levels allows us to determine if colostrum sis of a good quality. Many of you would be familiar with a hydrometer which measures a milk sample. It’s an established method but its time consuming.
A Brix colostrum Refractometer is the newest and most effective way to test for high quality colostrum.
By using a colostrum refractometer, the farmer can determine the IgG concentration by measuring colostrum specific gravity and can then decide if colostrum is of high enough quality.
With the refractometer, a small drop of colostrum is placed on the glass surface and then the scale is read through the eye piece of the refractometer. A refractometer scale then allows us to determine if the colostrum is of a good quality.
Readings of less than 20 are considered poor, readings of 20 to 22 are considered okay, and readings of 22 or more are of a good quality suitable for storage or use.
It’s a quick, easy to use device that can be slipped into your pocket. You can test in an instant.
It may look like a lightsabre but you’ll feel like a modern farmer using them. Refractometers are the future in first milk management.
You can find out more about refractometers on Monday's Being Brilliant at the Basics.