Colostrum is the first milk secreted and it plays vital role in building immune system of newly born animals. It is fortified with maternal antibodies and it must be consumed within the first few hours after birth as it will enhance the performance of the animals as it provide the vital energy and essential amino acids for the animals.
Fat concentration is substantially higher in colostrum than in milk in some species e.g. sheep and horses but lower in colostrum than in milk.
Researches has shown that colostrum contains Lactoferrin, it is an iron-binding whey protein found in the milk of most mammals and it contains 703 amino acids. It is capable of binding pathogens invading the body, it is a good source of iron and have antibacterial, antiviral, antifungal, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and immunomodulatory activities.
It is essential that pregnant animals are in good state of health, with good nutrition and management, all this determines the quality and quantity of colostrum produced.
An insufficient colostrum intake usually leads to one of the major reasons for pre-weaning mortalities, so it is important that farmers ensure good intake of colostrum help the young animals immune system.
However, breed and genetic factors have an influence on the potential of animals to produce enough colostrum. For instance, sows with heavy litters at birth usually have a high colostrum yield, the young animals intestines are capable of absorbing nutrients into the intestine and act as a line of defense against disease. The young animals’ bodies adjust to their immediate environment and by the time they are 24 hours old, their ability to absorb antibodies into the bloodstream is completely gone.
Farmers or animal rearers must ensure that their newly born animals consume enough colostrum within the first the 24hours for optimal performance later in life.