A newborn calf is vulnerable. It does not possess any antibodies at birth, and during the first weeks the own immune system of a calf is still insufficient to fight against infections of the intestines (diarrhea) or lungs (pneumonia).
It is therefore critical that calves are fed colostrum as soon as possible after birth. Colostrum contains high concentrations of antibodies (IgG) that protect the calf. In addition, colostrum contains energy, protein, minerals, vitamins and substances that have a positive influence on the development of the small intestine.
Feed as soon as possible and observe the right quantity and quality
Make sure that your calf receives at least 3 to 4 liters of good quality colostrum within 1 hour after birth (rule of thumb for the quantity: 10% of calf birth weight). Feed another 2 liters within 8 hours and another 2 liters within 24 hours. That is a total of 7 to 8 liters in the first 24 hours, in which only colostrum is given from the first milking. In this way you provide your calf with sufficient nutrients to build up a good resistance immediately after birth. Quickly delivery of colostrum is literally vital: the absorption of antibodies by a calf via colostrum is best done immediately after birth. Within 12 hours the absorption of antibodies is halved and after 24 hours there is no absorption anymore of antibodies from colostrum into the blood.