ASK THE EXPERT - Lambs and Kids
Can bovine colostrum be fed to newborn lambs and kids (small ruminants) when colostrum from their own species is not available?
The major killers of newborn small ruminants are starvation, hypothermia, scours, and pneumonia. Therefore, the main question is how well feeding cow colostrum prevents these problems.
Colostrum is comprised of nutrients, growth factors, and immunoglobulins or antibodies that prevent infectious diseases. For the most part bovine colostrum contains the same nutrients and growth factors as are found in ewe and doe colostrum and therefore will prevent starvation if fed early and in amounts recommended to transfer immunity. The most important nutrients that prevent hypothermia are colostral fat and lactose. On average bovine colostrum contains the same amount of lactose but is 2.5 to 3.5 times lower in fat than ewe and doe colostrum respectively. So more bovine colostrum should be fed to small ruminants born into conditions where the risk of hypothermia is high.
The colostrum selected to make The Saskatoon Colostrum Company’s colostrum products for small ruminants is high in fat and therefore these products provide good levels of energy.
Similarly, bovine colostrum contains antibodies against most of the common diseases that infect newborn small ruminants. Therefore when fed in adequate amounts bovine colostrum will prevent diseases like navel/joint ill, E. coli, rota virus, Mannheimia, Pasteurella, and parainfl uenza 3 virus. However, bovine colostrum does not contain antibodies against two diseases that can be transmitted through colostrum from an infected dam to newborn small ruminants: ovine progressive pneumonia (OPP) in lambs and caprine arthritis encephalitis (CEA) in kids. Therefore, if those diseases are present in a herd and bovine colostrum is fed to newborns, neither colostrum nor milk from potentially infected dams should be fed to the same neonates.