The Research Innovation “Measuring the quality of colostrum” was demonstrated to a group of approximately 20 beef farmers in Germany by BRS. In a presentation the theoretical background was given, a video showed the practice of measuring colostrum quality. The innovation was rated as beneficial overall. Especially the aspect of freezing colostrum of good quality and making sure every calf is provided with a sufficient amount of colostrum of good quality got a lot of approval. The farmers showed a positive recognition of how easy it is to measure colostrum quality. A video about the quality measurement via refractometer can be seen here:

It was agreed amongst all participants that the measurement of colostrum quality itself is very easy. The main obstacles that may occur are the lack of compliance of some cows after calving so it would be difficult to impossible to milk colostrum for measurement. Another obstacle might be the timing of calving as only few farmers are present at calving at night, especially when calving takes place on pasture. As a last obstacle the measurement of the amount of colostrum intake of the calves was identified. In contrast to dairy calves, beef sucklers normally drink their colostrum directly from the udder of their mother so it is difficult to really say how much colostrum the calf did really drink. Still it was acknowledged that maybe the total amount is not the crucial factor as long as the calf suckles for a sufficient time and the colostrum has a good quality.

The costs for equipment are very manageable as only a hand refractometer is necessary. The farmers agreed this is no real obstacle. But to gain an overview over your herd’s colostrum quality is a possibility to save many costs that would arise with low colostrum quality such as costs for veterinary treatment, medication or even losses of calves to illnesses. Overall it was agreed that the Innovation would prove useful and with a positive outcome for animal health. 

The majority of farmers would recommend this innovation to other farmers. Still it was mainly agreed that it’s hardly possible to measure the colostrum quality of every cow. As a consent it was suggested to measure quality of colostrum of older cows where better quality can be expected and to use this colostrum to build a freezed stock of colostrum to be able to feed a calf good quality colostrum even if the mother hasn’t got enough colostrum, doesn’t accept her calf or other issues occur that endanger the colostrum supply of the calf. Additionally, it was suggested to measure a certain amount of colostrum samples every year to get an overview of the colostrum quality within the herd and to get the chance to optimize feeding, nutritional supply or immune status of the cows to enhance colostrum quality.