There are five “Qs” of colostrum management: quality, quantity, quickly, sQueeky clean, quantify passive transfer, says Sam Leadley, PhD, Attica Veterinary Associates, P.C., Attica, N.Y.

But often when there is a “surge” of calvings on a dairy, colostrum shortcuts happen in colostrum management. Where do the shortcuts happen that negatively impact calf health? Leadley says at every point. These shortcuts include:

Quality -- Skipping testing with a Colostrometer or refractometer, and just feeding whatever is on hand. You cannot feed enough of low quality (low IgG concentration) colostrum to get 200g of IgG into a calf, Leadley says.

Quantity – Cheating on time to feed calves means that they end up with less than the four quarts we want in the first four hours. Or, they skip the second feeding entirely.

Quickly – Feeding colostrum when they get to it rather than as soon as possible. Dropping back to feeding colostrum to all newborn calves at two times a day.

sQueeky clean – Rinsing equipment rather than washing it. Biofilms build up supporting large bacteria populations on equipment surfaces.

Quantify passive transfer – Not drawing blood – dairies that are too busy to monitor a system that is in a state of chaos.

“Calves suffer again from a double whammy,” Leadley says. “Inadequate immunity and excessive pathogen exposure. Not only do we get high scours treatment rates, but this condition makes it difficult to provide calves enough protein and energy to build up their immune system during the first three or four weeks of life. These situations often result in high pneumonia treatment rates as well.”

When not enough time is available to properly collect, handle and store colostrum so that it can be delivered wholesome and clean, Leadley says to consider using colostrum replacer as the first feeding after birth.

Read more about managing calf surges and colostrum management in Leadley’s Calving Ease newsletters at