Wednesday, 19 August 2020 09:20

Managing first colostrum feed

Written by  Mark Daniel
Antahi Innovations' colostrum system. Antahi Innovations' colostrum system.

Taking the NZ Launch Innovation award for their colostrum management system in the 2020 Fieldays Competition, Antahi Innovations were building on their previous winner the Trusti Tuber.

It is well known that the first colostrum feed is critical to a calf as they are born without antibodies and have a brief window of about 12 hours of life to absorb antibodies into the blood stream for immunity. Early stage colostrum is proven to result in a healthier and more productive animal for its lifespan. However, not all cows make good quality colostrum, and many calves don’t receive enough colostrum from their mothers.

Although most farmers realise the benefits of colostrum, recent trials show that over 95% of farmers are feeding suboptimal colostrum; either with low antibody level, a high bacterial level or both. 

The Antahi system provides the basis for optimal colostrum management based around quality assessment, storage and eventual use with the new-born animals. Firstly, a colostrum quality check is undertaken using a refractometer, allowing the farmer to quickly confirm which cows have the best quality colostrum to be kept for the first feed.

Then the high-quality colostrum is placed into Trusti colostrum bags and chilled until feeding time. 

Hygienic harvesting, refrigeration and freezing is said to be the key to minimising bacterial contamination, without the need for chemical preservatives. Colostrum can be refrigerated for three days untreated, seven days if pasteurised, or frozen for up to year inside the colostrum bags. This means the farmer should always have a store of quality colostrum on hand. 

Said to offer flexibility, the reusable colostrum bags and accessories take care of days when there is plenty of high value colostrum, or lulls when the quality or quantity is not available.

Storage bags are easily transported to the paddock or calving area during routine checks to enable the earliest possible feeding opportunity.  Calves can be fed using a good quality teat attached to the bag or via a Trusti Tuber oesophageal tube.

While the reusable Trusti Colostrum bags offer great advancement on their own, they are complemented further by the Trusti Pasteur.

Completing the system, the Trusti Pasteur enables easy pasteurisation to rid colostrum of bacteria, which can cause disease and inhibits the absorption of antibodies. 

The machine also achieves quick thawing and warming of colostrum within the colostrum bags as it maintains the water at a constant warm temperature. 

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