Yellowish liquid, especially rich in immune factors, secreted by the mammary gland of female mammals
a few days before and after the birth of their young, it is very important that a newborn calf feed on colostrum during it's first day after birth. Colostrum is rich in antibodies, growth factors, cytokines, and protects the newborn calf from infections during it's first 2 months of life.
The second calf born this spring was not taking milk from his mother. I watched it for several hours and I am pretty sure this was the case. In addition the mother cow's udder was tense. The other cow that had just calved a week before had an udder not near as tense. Whether I was over reacting or not, I don't know even now. I sent a text message to my Longhorn encyclopedia, Bear Davidson the ranch manager of G&G Longhorns, asking what I should do. He informed me I should feed the calf colostrum every 5-6 hours for a day. I'm like where the hell am I going to get cow colostrum? I'm not getting near the mother, she is actually the most skittish cow in my heard. It was Friday late afternoon and I called the nearby Tractor Supply. Sure enough, the old Tractor Supply came through again, they had cow colostrum. I dutifully fed the critter every 6 hours through Friday night into Saturday morning. I started with the bucket feeder pictured below but he was taking the colostrum very slow so I went ahead and used the tube feeder later in the night. If you use a tube feeder, you must make sure it is in the esophagus and not in the trachea (breathing tube). If you put the food down the trachea, the calf will die of pneumonia. See below for more detail on how to place a feeding tube in a calf's esophagus. The next day by lunch, I saw him taking milk from his mother. I don't know if I over reacted, but now I know what colostrum is and how to give it to a calf.
Pictured on the right: esophageal feeding probe (a metal or stiff plastic tube that goes down the calf’s throat and partway down the esophagus. The rounded bulb on the end of the probe protects the mouth and throat from being injured and helps to prevent back-flow of fluids up the esophagus. It also helps the tube to bypass the larynx and small opening into the windpipe when you are inserting the tube into the throat. The windpipe is slightly below and alongside the opening into the esophagus. You must not get any fluid into the windpipe; if it gets down into the lungs it will drown the calf. Gently put the tube into the side of his mouth. This is easier than trying to force it into the front. Then aim it straight and slide it over the tongue to the back of the mouth and into the throat. The calf should swallow it as you move it back and forth and apply gentle pressure. Make sure the tube is not forced into the windpipe; the calf must be given a chance to swallow as it is pushed down. Hold your fingers on the outside of the neck (front of the throat), to determine where the tube is going. You can feel or see the bulb end of the tube slip down the throat and into the esophagus.
If you can see or feel the bulb (above the windpipe), you know it’s in the proper place and it’s safe to continue pushing the tube farther down. If you can’t see or feel the tube, or the calf is coughing, or there are puffs of air coming out your end, it’s in his windpipe and you must take it out and start over. Be sure it’s in the esophagus and fully inserted (the bulb down close to the stomach) before you tip up the feeder container or release the fluid into the tube. Hold the calf firmly so he can’t struggle or the tube may come partway out and allow fluid to get into the windpipe.
Andrew Stickler & Mitchell C. Stickler: the goal of this website is to assist those who are considering raising livestock for the first time.