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  • Writer's picturePaul Dillon

The importance of getting colostrum into calves quickly is illustrated in this trial from Oklahoma U

Allowing calves to stay with their mothers exposes them to unnecessary risk with potentially lethal consequences

Maternity pens should be well supervised so that calves can be removed from their dam in a timely manner. This will help reduce accidental ingestion of dangerous pathogens from contaminated faeces on the mother’s udder or bedding.

10 Holstein bull calves obtained at birth before nursing their dams were allotted to 3 different treatments.

1) 4 calves were administered E-Coli bacteria suspended in 1 litre of sterile saline via stomach tube at 2-6 hours after birth.

2) 2 calves were administered 1 litre of colostrum containing E-Coli at 2-6 hours after birth.

3) 2 calves received 1 litre of colostrum 2-6 hours after birth and 1 hour later were administered saline containing E-Coli.

Each calf was fed 1 litre of reconstituted whole milk 12 h after dosage with E. coli. Two calves handled in a similar manner but not exposed to E. coli served as negative controls for comparison of ultrastructural anatomy.

Twenty-four hours after exposure to E. coli, calves were anesthetized with sodium pentobarbital and samples from blood, liver, spleen, and mesenteric lymph nodes draining jejunal and ileal regions of the small intestines were collected.

"In conclusion, these studies further emphasize the need for the young calf to receive colostrum early in life. The benefits of early colostrum in preventing generalized infection may be twofold:

a) early exposure to colostrum may prevent transepithelial migration of microorganisms and

b) if invasion does occur, the interaction of passively acquired immunoglobulins and phagocytic ceils of the neonate result in removal of the invading organism."

Oklahoma University. Source; 1977 Journal Dairy Science 60:1416-1421

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