Colostrum, fluid for life


The most crucial point for a healthy newborn (calf, kid, lamb, piglet etc.) is to provide on time and enough high quality colostrum. From this axiom is evident that three aspects significantly affect the proper passive transfer of the immunity trough colostrum:

  • Timing of colostrum supplementation
  • Quantity of colostrum taken by the newborn
  • Quality of colostrum in terms of content of immunoglobulins (Ig – antibodies)

If one or more of the above points are mistaken, calf doesn’t get enough antibodies, condition called failure passive transfer (FPT), being more exposed to disease and at higher risk of mortality.

Colostrum has to be supplemented soon after birth, as the absorption capacity of the gut is gradually stopped at 24 hours. The more recent indications suggest to provide at least 4 liters of colostrum within the first 8 hours and 2 more liters within 24 hours of life. In case a calf is not keen to drink colostrum, it can be administered with an ergonomic tube, in order to provide the proper amount.


If timing and amount of supplied colostrum are quite easy to be managed, colostrum quality is affected by several factors such as: dams’ vaccination protocol, nutrition and parity, heat stress and time of milking. An easy and accurate way to estimate colostrum quality is to check its BRIX value trough the refractometer (digital or optical). Ig content is strongly correlated with BRIX value and a good quality colostrum has a brix value equal or above 22 (equal to 50 g/l of IgG). Colostrum quality is impaired in case of improper vaccination protocol of the cows against the main pathogens involved in diarrhea and respiratory disease such as no vaccination at all, vaccination only of multiparous cows or utilization of an opened or partially used and expired product. A low level of metabolizable protein in pre-partum diet affect the antibody content of the colostrum. Again, heifers’ colostrum has a lower antibody content. Colostrum has to be collected as soon as possible after parturition, because the longer is the time from parturition to colostrum collection and the lower is its Ig content due to a progressive dilution in the mammary gland. In order to guarantee the availability of good quality colostrum, its quality has to be checked at each parturition and colostrum that reach the proper quality target has to be collected and frozen to create a colostrum bank. Then, colostrum has to be gently defrosted and fed to the newborn. 


In case of low colostrum quality due to the aforementioned factors, feeding colostrum supplements based on powdered colostrum is crucial to guarantee a proper immune status of the newborn. Moreover, with a proper administration protocol, products rich in colostrum powder can be fed as colostrum replacement, e.g. in case of mother’s death or risk of vertical transmission of diseases. The critical points of colostrum supplements are represented by: palatability, Ig content and the risk of the transmission of diseases. In order to match all those aspects, Mazzoleni developed Globifen, a colostrum replacement rich in powdered colostrum, that guarantees high Ig content, and containing dextrose to improve the palatability and yeast products to protect the gastrointestinal tract. The colostrum of Globifen is guaranteed free from Bovine rhinotracheitis (BHV-1), Leucosis (LEB), Brucellosis, Tuberculosis, Viral diarrhea (BVD), BSE and John’s disease.