Colostrum, also known as beestings, is the first and most important line of defence for a newborn calf.

Not only does colostrum provide nutrition to the calf, it’s also a source of maternal antibodies that protect the calf against infections; many of which occur in early life.

Therefore, it is critical that the calf receives an adequate intake of good-quality colostrum within the first two hours of life.

If unsure about the quality of colostrum you are feeding your calves, it is advisable to test the quality using a Brix Refractometer – as seen in the video below.

A reading of above 22% – on the refractometer – indicates good-quality colostrum.

Furthermore, a calf should receive 8.5% of its total body weight in colostrum in the first two hours of life. Immunoglobulin absorption reduces dramatically after that.

With this in mind, a calf weighing 35kg should get 3L of colostrum and a 45kg calf should receive 4L. Those feeding levels are crucial for the calf’s future performance.

While some farmers prefer to bottle feed their calves this level of colostrum, others prefer to stomach tube their calves. In the video (above) we also show best practice when stomach tubing a calf.

Some farmers prefer this method of feeding to ensure that the calf consumes the required amount of colostrum needed.