Baby animals are adorable in every way, and the highlight of this time of year in the barn. But they are also very fragile, especially during those all-too-important first hours of life. We all want to give our babies the best chance to grow into healthy adult animals, and a key first step toward that goal is making sure they receive high-quality colostrum immediately after birth.
Why is Colostrum So Important?
Believe it or not, most animals are born with virtually zero ability to fight off diseases on their own (we humans are passively immunized in the womb, but not so for our four-legged friends). As a result, they must consume their antibodies (also commonly known as IgG, immunoglobulins, or globulin protein) from the mother’s colostrum in order to develop necessary immunities until they begin to produce their own antibodies. Interestingly, during the first 24 hours of life (and only the first 24, it's important to note), your new baby has the ability to absorb antibodies directly into its bloodstream without digestion (passive transfer of immunity), which is why it's so critical that she receives colostrum as quickly as possible after being born and throughout her first 24 hours of life.
In addition to providing these necessary antibodies, colostrum is also a rich source of vitamins, minerals, protein, fats, and natural growth hormones. It also happens to be lower in lactose than normal milk, which makes it easier for babies to digest, and it acts as a laxative to help young intestines to begin to do their important work right away.
The Importance of High-Quality Colostrum
High quality colostrum is defined as colostrum that is:
has adequate amounts of antibodies
The antibody content of colostrum can vary widely, based on a number of factors present during pregnancy and birth:
The diseases to which the mother has been exposed (through either infection or vaccination) prior to birth of her newborn, since mom can only provide antibodies she herself has in her bloodstream. It's important to note that older mothers typically have greater and more varied disease exposure, leading to much higher quality colostrum than first time mothers.
The quality of nutrition the mother received during gestation, which affects not only the development of the baby, but her colostrum production as well.
Whether or not mama was lactating (milking) during pregnancy. Mothers who were milked while pregnant must give given time to "dry off" in order to enable antibodies to concentrate in the udder and be given to the newborn through colostrum. While it's certainly not typical, if you have a dairy animal milked through to birth, she will be unable to form high quality colostrum for her baby.
Having Colostrum on Hand...Just In Case
Obviously, there are factors from the above lists that you can control, but it's easy to see that many important pieces of the equation are out of your control, including the unfortunate possibility that the mother dies during birth or is unable to provide colostrum to her baby for any number of reasons. Those experienced with baby animals will attest that anything can happen during that otherwise miraculous and beautiful moment of birth, and it always makes sense to hope for the best, but plan for the worst.
Manna Pro offers three Colostrum products designed to cover the majority of newborn animals effectively and cost-efficiently. Each product is designed with a specific purpose in mind, to meet the varied demands of today's lifestyle farmers and homesteaders.
Manna Pro Colostrum Supplement
Colostrum Supplement from Manna Pro provides support for the broadest range of species (9), and is easy to mix and feed. Keep Colostrum Supplement on hand if you are expecting babies from a variety of animals this Spring, and you'll be prepared for virtually any circumstance:
If you have questions about Colostrum, milk replacers in general, or how to prepare for baby animals on your property this Spring, check out Manna Pro's recorded webinars on these important topics and others in Manna Pro's online Recommended Reading area.
Preparing for Baby Animals
Feeding Baby Animals, from Milk Replacers to Dry Feed
Our Milk Match Guide Makes Finding the Perfect Milk Replacer Easy