The importance of colostrum in mammal newborn animals

colostrum mammals animal nutrition|

In today’s edition we focus on the nutritional benefits of colostrum in mammal newborns such as calves, kids, lambs, puppies, piglets, foals, cubs, and pups.

Mammals are animals that that lactate and produce milk to feed their young ones (Thapa, 2005).

What is colostrum?

Colostrum is a nutrient-rich fluid secreted by mammals, which aids in the development of immunity in newly-born mammals and is thick lemon to yellow in color (Thapa, 2005).

It significantly contains natural anti-microbial agents that actively stimulate the maturation of a neonate's immune system (Uruakpa et al., 2002). Colostrum in mammals is fairly rich in protein, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins and minerals. In neonates colostrum is said to develop immunity to fight against infections on the gastrointestinal tract.

Neonates ought to be exposed to colostrum within a few hours after birth, as it usually deteriorates between two to four days after parturition, when normal milk is subsequently secreted. Furthermore, colostrum enhances the passing out of the neonate first stool called meconium.

Deprivation of colostrum in mammal newborns

For neonates that come in large litters, such as piglets, a farmer can assist all piglets to access colostrum. Syringe feeding or bottle feeding is essential at-least 4 times a day, until piglets are able to suckle on their own from the sow (female pig); this also applies to any species of puppies.

In so doing, loss of neonates may be reduced, as colostrum helps avoiding that they succumb easily to environmental pathogens like E.coli, salmonella, streptococcus that cause diseases.

In a case where the dam (mother) of the young one dies immediately after birth, what can be done?

Colostrum can be milked from the dam and kept frozen in the refrigerator to feed the young one. Since micro-organisms grow anywhere, colostrum cannot be kept in an open jar, as the idea of passive immunity to the neonate may gradually decrease thereof. However, in the wild this is hard to manage: neonates are exposed to predators and eventually die of starvation when the dam dies, so it is recommended to stock colostrum for them to be fed with.

In an intensive unit for cattle, goats, pigs and sheep colostrum fostering may be done, whereby milk from nursing dams is collected and fed to neonates.

The use of a Colostrometer or Hydrometer instrument that tests immunoglobulin density and reads poor, good and excellent colostrum is an added advantage in an intensive unit. Why is this so? Because dams with poor colostrum will be mixed with those with good quality colostrum hence, fed to neonates which may reduce neonatal death.


Therefore, neonates ought to be regularly monitored after birth to ensure “first milk” or colostrum is consumed which significantly contributes to good health.


Thapa, B. R. (2005). Health factors in colostrum. The Indian Journal of Pediatrics, 72(7), 579-581.

Uruakpa, F. O., Ismond, M. A. H., & Akobundu, E. N. T. (2002). Colostrum and its benefits: a review. Nutrition Research, 22(6), 755-767.Discover the Suite of Apps for Livestock Management
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