Frontiers in Veterinary Science (Apr 2021)

Survey on Colostrum Management by Dairy Farmers in the Netherlands

  • Lisa Robbers,
  • Hannes J. C. Bijkerk,
  • Ad P. Koets,
  • Ad P. Koets,
  • Lindert Benedictus,
  • Mirjam Nielen,
  • Ruurd Jorritsma

Journal volume & issue
Vol. 8


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Colostrum feeding is essential for the transfer of passive immunity and health of newborn calves. Information on current colostrum management practices to reduce calf morbidity and mortality is important but lacking for Dutch dairy herds. We therefore conducted a survey to investigate colostrum management strategies on Dutch dairy farms. The survey was specifically focused on the most recently born calf and was returned by 107 respondents (response rate of 13.4%). The mean amount of colostrum fed at first feeding was 2.9 liters. Overall, 79% of farmers provided the calf with at least 6 liters of colostrum in up to three feedings. The majority of respondents (84%) claimed to provide the calf with colostrum for the first time within 2 h post-partum. Using ordinal logistic regression and Wilcoxon rank sum test, we found no differences in time to first colostrum feeding or total amount of colostrum fed between bull calves and heifer calves, respectively. Ordinal logistic regression showed no significant differences in time to first colostrum feeding or time between calving and removing the calf from the dam between AMS and conventional milking herds. Two sample T-test comparing the total volume of colostrum showed no significant difference between AMS and conventional milking herds. Time of day at which a calf was born affected both volume fed at first colostrum feeding and time until first colostrum feeding. Calves born between 00.00 and 06.00 were significantly at risk of receiving the first colostrum later as compared to calves born at other times. Calves born in the evening received on average a lower amount of colostrum at first feeding. Survey results on colostrum management on most Dutch dairy farms are in agreement with the advice to feed as soon as possible after parturition and to provide at least 6 liters within 24 h of age. The current study points at time of calving as a potential risk factor for sub-optimal colostrum feeding. Further research is necessary to determine the consequences of this observation.