We're raising awareness that feeding the right quantity of colostrum, of the right quality, quickly enough after birth, reduces the chances of new-born animals needing antibiotic treatments at any point in their lives. Find out how to support #ColostrumIsGold by reading on...
Colostrum, or first milk from cows, sheep or pigs, is chock-full of antibodies, energy and essential nutrients that can benefit the new-born animal – if fed during a narrow window after birth.
Receiving adequate colostrum, quickly enough, could virtually eliminate Watery MouthE. Coli infection in lambs without need for antibiotic treatments. It could more than halve cases of pneumonia in calves. And it could improve the survival rate in new-born pigs, up to weaning age and beyond.
But at busy times of year, we don’t always have time or resources to make sure every animal gets enough colostrum, or gets it quickly enough. That’s why the RUMA Alliance, which ensures farm animal medicines are used responsibly in the UK, has created this campaign.
What are the recommendations for feeding Colostrum?
Calves: Give a first feed of 4 litres or 10% of bodyweight within 4 or preferably 2 hours of birth; this should then be followed up by a further 2 litres within 12 hours of birth. A calf requires approximately 20 minutes of continuous suckling to consume enough colostrum from the cow at the first feed. Good quality cow colostrum has immunoglobulin (IgG) levels of greater than 50mg/ml.
Lambs: Rule of thumb is 210–290 ml/kg body weight, so a 5kg lamb at birth needs 1 litre of colostrum in its first 24 hours of life to give it essential levels of natural immunity. But importantly, the first feed should be within 2 hours of birth.
Pigs: New-born pigs should suckle within 30 minutes of birth to meet energy requirements, and consume over 200ml of colostrum in total in the first 24 hours, but preferably nearer 290ml.
Why in February?
Some farms have farrowing and calving year-round, some calve in the autumn, and others run out-of-season lambing. But February is peak calving for spring calving dairy herds, the start of the main lambing season, and precedes the busiest time for calving in suckler beef herds. This makes it a great time to talk colostrum.
Let us and others know how you’re lending your voice to #ColostrumIsGold this February. Support our campaign by telling us in the form below:
why you believe #ColostrumIsGold…or
what you are doing differently…or
what you will be doing to spread the word…or
how you will be helping improve colostrum management this spring…or
top tips for feeding colostrum.
Your message will appear on our RUMA and FarmAntibiotics websites. And you will be able to share it on social media.
Get ideas and inspiration
If you need more information, facts, scientific papers, case studies or helpful videos and podcasts on managing colostrum better, visit www.FarmAntibiotics.org where there is a bank of useful resources and ideas to get you started.
NSA is proud to support the #colostrumisgold campaign. There can be no better start to a newborn lambs life than adequate consumption of colostrum, particularly in the first 24 hours of life. We look forward to sharing this important message throughout the campaign.
Chief Veterinary Officer
I welcome RUMA’s #ColostrumIsGold campaign and strongly encourage farmers to take steps to improve the quality, quantity and quickness of colostrum delivery to their new born animals. Doing so is essential to their immunity and reduces susceptibility to common infectious diseases. This improves health and can boost productivity, whilst reducing the need for antibiotic treatment in line with industry’s commitment.
There is no silver bullet for reducing antibiotic use on pig farms. What’s important is the cumulative effect of numerous good management practices and disease prevention strategies and ensuring piglets get good colostrum intake is a great example. NPA will be promoting the beneficial effects of colostrum on pig health to our members throughout this month.
Nothing has more impact on a piglets survival than an adequate intake of colostrum, which provides energy and immunity. Primary Diets are proud to support #colostrumisgold campaign and will be promoting this to our customers throughout this month.
Colostrum is a real WIN:WIN story. Good quality colostrum not only reduces the cost of production through reduced mortality before and after weaning but also improves welfare and reduces antibiotic use. There is a big payback for a little extra effort.
We want our sheep farmers to eliminate metaphylactic antibiotic usage in neonatal lambs! The #ColostrumIsGold campaign is fantastic as Colostrum is one of the key points we discuss when wanting to reduce the use of antibiotics at lambing time. Thank you for all the great information!
Vet Consultant and Ecologist
The right amount of good quality colostrum is vital for succesful lamb rearing.
Good colostrum depends upon good feeding
Scan, separate and plan your feeding
We are delighted to support #ColostrumIsGold
We are encouraging sheep vets to concentrate on colostrum in their pre-lambing farmer meetings & within the Flock Health Club network we have a 'How-many-times-can-you-say-#ColostrumIsGold-challenge'!
As we aim to #reduce#replace#refine our use of antibiotics we are encouraging farmers to #Plan#Prevent#Protect & the #quality#quantity#quickness of colostrum is a key element of that aim!
Feeding good quality colostrum is essential, particularly for the first couple of feeds, as calves / lambs that are fed poor quality colostrum never achieve an adequate level of immunity - a colostrometer can be useful in assessing colostrum quality but pen-side analysis using a handheld refractometer may be more accurate (Morrison et al, AFBI).
Reviewing colostrum policies makes such a difference to young stock health. When investigating outbreaks of scour and pneumonia in young stock, taking bloods to check for adequate passive transfer in young animals often reveals improvements can be made in colostrum management. Get it right from birth and it will make a big difference to overall health.
The health and welfare of farm animals in the UK is key to the productivity of our dairy and livestock industry. Optimal colostrum management is the best start we could possibly give UK livestock – it isn’t the only answer but it is a very important tool in the box. It is a great campaign that we fully support! #colostrumisgold
Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB)
XLVets are delighted to support #ColostrumisGold - How an animal is managed in early life can pre-programme the metabolism and determine lifetime production.
Colostrum quality can vary enormously between animals, but is very easy to monitor - check if colostrum is good enough to be fed or stored, or needs to be thrown away.
The value of colostrum cannot be overstated. Components within colostrum direct gut development, stimulate a balanced microflora and give immunological protection thus providing a solid foundation to produce a healthy piglet. ABN is delighted to support #ColostrumIsGold and continues to conduct research and development in this important area at universities within the UK. Our field staff provide help and support on how to ensure that the many benefits of colostrum are maximised.
East of England Agricultural Society & Winter Stock Festival
A stitch in time saves 9! The first 6 hours are vital - a small amount of time making sure calves and lambs have suckled well saves hours of care for sick animals later on. #colostrumisgold
Moving to two 3 litre feeds in the feeds in the first 12 hours of life has made a huge difference to the health of our calves.
Mourne Veterinary Clinic
Promote the benefits of colostrum for newborn calves via social media etc
Opened the discussion on reducing lamb losses at yesterday's AHDB Challenge Sheep farmer meeting with #ColostrumIsGold! It all starts with ewe nutrition and adequate colostrum. So many lamb losses are avoidable if we get colostrum management right.
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You are Supporting as an Organisation.
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Who is behind #ColostrumIsGold?
RUMA has created this campaign with the support of its members. There is a strong link between good colostrum intake at birth and better health with good natural immunity. This means less disease, and less need for antibiotic treatments.
Who can get involved?
We want everyone to be involved, from individuals to farming businesses, consultants, breed societies, vets, farming unions, processors and retailers. Everyone can play a role in changing what they do on-farm, or influencing and supporting others.