When a calf gets colostrum from their mother it kick starts their almost non-existent immune system and in the meantime it gives them some passive immunity.

It is a temporary boost until their immune system develops enough to do its job.

However, sometimes a calf doesn’t get enough from colostrum to protect them. This could be for a number of reasons either relating to the cow, or to the environment the calf is born into.

Even if the calf gets enough colostrum, there are blind spots. For example, there is one immediately after birth and before passive immunity begins.

Calf colostrum

Image source

Another exists at 4-7 weeks when the protection of passive immunity disappears but before the calf’s active immune system builds up.

According to Progressive Dairyman, this results in calf death losses of 5-8%.

There have been all sorts of solutions to deal with this issue; mixing eggs or egg yolks through a calf’s milk or milk replacer to fortify the milk  is just one of them.

In the past, most farmyards would have a wide variety of livestock and poultry compared to now.

Roaming hens would be exposed to every pathogen going. This hen would then produce antibodies against these pathogens and pass this resistance onto their young in the only way they could – through their eggs.

hen egg antibodies

This practice has stuck around, and has become an awful lot more advanced than simply dropping an egg in; farmers now use dried egg products supercharged with antibodies.

Now, rather than hoping for the hen to develop antibodies to whatever she might come across, she is not immunized with specific antigens to produce specific antibodies against pathogens.

One of the antigens hens are imbued with fights against pathogens that may normally cause intestinal tissue inflammation and diarrhea in young calves.

Once the hens lay, the eggs are collected, broken, pasteurized and spray-dried into a powder for ease of feeding in milk, milk replacer or calf starters.

Hen-egg-fortify-antibodies-pathogens

The manufacturer can employ quality control and assurance to ensure purity and measure the amount of antibodies in the dried egg powder mix; a lot more sophisticated than the old fashioned way.

If you are doing it the old fashioned way, be wary that there are risks associated with salmonella in eggs that could affect your calf.

Rest assured though, colostrum is extremely important, and you need to be on the scene to ensure that your calf gets their beastings.

Our Moocall calving sensor means you can be there right on time when your cow and calf need you. Whether it’s a heifer needing a pull or a cow who won’t let your calf suck, being on the scene is essential during the crucial early hours of a calf’s life.

The Moocall Calving Sensor connects to your phone and measures your cow or heifer’s contractions through their tail movements so you can receive SMS notifications an hour and two hours before the calf is due to be on the ground.

With the FREE Breemanager app, you get the added feature of your phone ‘mooing’ out amongst many other things.

Check out the calving sensor here: www.moocall.com/products/moocall-sensors

Have you heard of any other tales of how to boost calving, lambing or anything else on the farm? Let us know in the comments.