When a lamb is born, it does not yet have antibodies (read: resistance) in its blood. The antibodies come from one source: colostrum. It is important that colostrum contains as many antibodies as possible, because that increases the chance of sufficient absorption in the lamb's blood.
The uptake of antibodies in the blood of a lamb can be measured and is usually carried out from 2 days to 7 days. From 2 days onwards, the antibodies have been completely absorbed from the gastrointestinal tract into the blood. From 7 days onwards, the level of antibodies in the blood drops.
If the result of the lab is below the desired value, it is important to find out the cause and to solve this as soon as possible.
Too few antibodies in the blood means too low resistance. This makes lambs more susceptible to environmental pathogens. This can result in an increased mortality rate, weakness among the animals, respiratory problems and diarrhoea. Colostrum with a high level of antibodies and the correct work protocol (work frequently, quickly, often, hygienically) are the solution.
However, it is possible that a lamb does not absorb enough antibodies after being given colostrum. In that case, the transfer of antibodies from the colostrum to the blood has failed. This is then referred to as FPT: Failure of passive transfer.
Antibody transfer failure (FPT)
There are various factors that determine whether antibodies are absorbed into the blood in sufficient quantities. Below is a brief summary of some of these factors:
Colostrum must contain as many antibodies as possible and no other interfering components. Colostrum from one's own mother is always better, but it also has disadvantages such as very variable quality, available quantity and, last but not least, the risk of disease transmission.
Try to work as hygienically as possible, for example by washing your hands regularly. Even better would be to wear disposable gloves. At birth, ensure that the mother animal is lying in clean straw, the lambs must not come into contact with the manure. The chance of contamination from the environment could be reduced by letting the mother animal lamb in clean straw. If the lambs do not come into contact with the manure, the risk of infection with paratuberculosis, for example, is reduced.
Hygiene is also important when preparing the colostrum and storing the colostrum. Always use clean and cleaned material and make enough colostrum for the number of lambs you need it for. Prepared colostrum can be stored, but there is always unwanted growth of bacteria.
The temperature of the colostrum produced is very close. If the dissolved colostrum is too cold, the colostrum will not be absorbed optimally. If the colostrum is prepared too warm, there is a chance that the antibodies will become ineffective. Colostrum must be prepared at approximately 43 to 45 degrees Celsius and administered at a temperature of 40 degrees Celsius.
Time of drinking
Antibodies are absorbed from the gastrointestinal tract into the blood. The gastrointestinal tract is open to the large proteins, including the antibodies, during the first 6 hours of life. It is therefore very important to give the dissolved colostrum within these first 6 hours of life, possibly in two feedings.
A lamb should always absorb sufficient antibodies. The amount of colostrum or artificial colostrum depends on the amount of antibodies in the (artificial) colostrum. Each colostrum substitute has its own prescribed amount. As far as CapraCol® is concerned, 50 grams of powder (economic), but even better 75 grams (optimal), is enough to achieve a sufficient passive transfer of the antibodies. Choose the free poster with a nutrition plan when you order!
As far as the FPT is concerned, there are many other factors to mention and every kid is different and every company is different. The above five points form the basis of good colostrum management. Do you have questions about it or do you want to make an addition? Feel free to call us on 0031 73 737 0129.
Paul Arts (1984) has been working with colostrum since 2006. During his Bachelor and Master studies, he and his father Cor Arts started selling colostrum products for dogs, cats, horses, sheep and goat lambs and calves. Over the years, a great deal of knowledge has been gained about colostrum, the active substances and the effect on human and animal health. This knowledge has been used to develop products for various animals.