The ‘liquid gold’ properties of colostrum are being promoted throughout February as part of an initiative to reduce the need for antibiotics in farm animals and improve their lifetime performance.
NFU dairy and livestock members are being encouraged to support the #ColostrumIsGold campaign that’s been created by the Responsible Use of Medicines in Agriculture (RUMA) Alliance. It underlines that responsible use of antibiotics starts with newborn calves, lambs and piglets receiving the right amount of colostrum within a couple of hours of birth – something all farmers have the potential to achieve.
The information is mainly based around getting the 3Qs – ‘quality, quantity and quickness’ – of colostrum delivery right. The FarmAntibiotics.org website will be signposting to these resources, as well as highlighting hints and tips for more effective colostrum management.
RUMA chairman Gwyn Jones said: “As a farmer I recognise the pressures at lambing and calving, and just how easy it can be to take shortcuts with the all-important first feed.
“But it was a wake-up call when I found out calves receiving insufficient colostrum at birth are more than twice as likely to develop respiratory disease, and can have mortality rates as high as 13%.
“Too often we see the animal start to suck or we give it a feed, and don’t think about the actual quantity of colostrum it consumes immediately after birth.
“All these factors have an enormous impact on the levels of antibodies in the bloodstream 24 hours later, and on the subsequent health of the animal and its need for antibiotic treatment during its whole life.
“Better colostrum management is an incredible opportunity – not to ensure better health for the future, but cut antibiotic use and produce a more valuable animal for onward rearing,” he adds.
Farmers and vets looking for more information should search for the #ColostrumIsGold hashtag on Twitter.
Useful tools, resources and case studies can be found at the FarmAntibiotics.org website.