The role of the veterinarian in colostrum management

Okay, the veterinarian can play in important role in colostrum management because the farmer will implement the colostrum management, will give the colostrum to the calves, but an important thing is to monitor that. And with a Brix refractometer, for instance, it's quite easy to monitor both the colostrum quality and the serum IgG levels in the calves to see whether or not they have received sufficient amounts of antibodies. So, an intelligent thing for vets could be that they perform a sort of follow-up on farms and check on calves to see whether or not they have received sufficient amount of antibodies by Brix refractometer.

It's just a simple device. You take the blood of a calf between 2 or 3 days of age, you put a drop of blood on the device and then you can get an indirect measurement of the IgG content and that would be good because then the vet can show to the farmer: "Look, you're doing a good job. All calves succeed in our test." Or, "Look, apparently there's a problem because we have calves with a failure of passive transfer." And then they can look upon what may be the reason and try and get the colostrum management better.

A second thing is that if you do that for all calves, you know which calves are at risk, because those with a failure of passive transfer have a higher risk of getting ill and dying even, compared to other calves. And if you can already isolate these calves, or give them a better treatment, that would be very beneficial for the overall results of the calf rearing on the farm.

There are some vets who do that already, but it's not so that it's a habit on all farms. So, as an advice to veterinarians, if they take that up on their farms and definitely on their problem farms, they will see that results will get better.

Nowadays, within Europe, there is a tendency, or at least an advice, that you should use the lowest amount of antibiotics as possible. Within that discussion, this is something that fits perfectly. Because if you can let your calves start with a good neonatal immunity, you have a low risk of having a calf that gets sick. You will have a lower need for antibiotics. So, that is the first procedure to look upon in that whole discussion.

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