Antibodies in colostrum - a refresher course

Immunoglobulins or antibodies are essential for the survival of an infant goat. Antibodies are transported via the colostrum to the abomasum (maw) and then on to the intestine. Once there, these antibodies pass through the mucous membrane of the gut lining and into the bloodstream. Antibodies can be transported throughout the kid’s body via the bloodstream.

Antibodies bind with pathogens. After a pathogen has been bound to an antibody it becomes harmless. A bound pathogen can then be destroyed by other cells of the immune system.

Colostrum from the first suckling is the only source of antibodies a goat kid receives from its mother. It needs to get enough of this particular colostrum to ingest enough antibodies to develop resistance to pathogens (passive immunity) during the earliest phase of life. From this point on, the kid will start to make its own antibodies (active immunity) and defend itself against pathogens independently.

Raw colostrum from its mother is the best quality colostrum a newborn goat can get. However, there are times when a colostrum substitute is necessary:

Disease-free
Diseases like caprine arthritis encephalitis (CAE) can be transmitted from mother to kid via raw colostrum. There is also a risk of colostrum contamination during suckling which could transmit E. coli, paratuberculosis and other pathogens. These are all known causes of chronic diarrhoea.

The consequences of CAE in particular are extremely detrimental to both your new stock and your business, and must be prevented. Pasteurisation of the mother’s colostrum is not recommended as many of the heat-sensitive substances it contains cannot survive high temperatures.

Quality
Not all young does are infected with CAE or paratuberculosis; however, the quality of colostrum in this group (expressed in antibodies per litre) is extremely variable and often substandard. Older does, on the other hand, often produce a higher level of antibodies per litre. Unfortunately, the risk of disease transmission in older animals can be higher.

When you opt for a colostrum substitute, you ensure your goat kids get a consistent level of antibodies per litre. CapraCol is a colostrum substitute made from colostrum from the first suckling. This is an essential factor, because colostrum produced after this time contains 60-80% fewer antibodies.

Less Work
CapraCol dissolves quickly and doesn’t froth. That means it’s very easy to prepare and can be used straight away. During busy times like kidding season, reducing the workload is always welcome.