Are your calves getting enough colostrum?

Colostrum management for newborn calves remains a problem on many farms. The modern dairy cow doesn’t share the same level of maternal instinct as her predecessor. She may produce a greater volume of colostrum but it is more dilute.


Colostrum quality declines at a rate of 4% an hour which may not seem high but if she is not milked immediately her colostrum will be on average 25% weaker when she gets into the parlour than when her calf was born.

The calf will only absorb 50% of what it was capable of at two hours old. The secret therefore is getting colostrum in quickly, within two hours of birth, and giving a minimum of three litres, preferably four, in that period.

If a stomach tube is used a bag will only hold between two and two-and-a-half litres so it will have to be partially refilled.

It is worth feeding colostrum after 24 hours, especially if calves are vaccinated for scour, as they will get the benefit of antibodies in the small intestine.

Farm-stored colostrum can have a very high Total Bacterial Count (TBC) so care should be taken when storing it. Johnes disease is also a consideration.

It is possible to rear calves that have not received enough colostrum but it is best to rear them away from the main, healthy group of calves.

This will reduce potential disease levels, prevent these calves from being a source of new infection and reduce work and cost.


23% milk protein

Transition milk is the milk cows produce after colostrum and before they produce what we consider milk. It is higher in most nutrients and antibodies and is beneficial to feed to calves. However, the effect of high TBC’s in transition milk and the risk of spreading disease offset these benefits. Using Transformula is the perfect solution and gives baby calves what baby calves need.

A skim and whey milk replacer using milk protein with added immune-stimulants and probiotics for feeding calves in the first days of life.


  • Over 200g of low heat skim milk, buttermilk and concentrated whey protein in every 300g of feed.
  • Allows farmers to reduce medicine usage with young calves. Transformula contains 10 times the level of anti- scour agents found in standard calf milk.
  • Saves ½- ¾ hour work every day.
  • Contains Kryptonite – a plant extract to ensure the small intestine is a hostile environment for pathogens.
  • Contains buttermilk which reduces stomach upsets and feed refusals as it acts as an emulsifier enhancing fat breakdown and it contains a lactic acid flavour. Additionally, it can reduce rotavirus infectivity.
  • It contains a blend of oils which increases digestibility of fat for the calf; it is important to have a good mix of short, medium and long chained fatty acids. Additionally, it contains a blend of Omega 6:3 oils that increase the calf’s ability to combat pneumonia.

Mixing rate

Add 1 L jug of powder to 3 ½ L jugs of water (this will make enough milk replacer to feed 2 calves per feed) or 140g of powder made up to 1L of mixed Transformula.  

Feeding rate

Day 1 Colostrum up to 10% of calf’s body weight or 4L in first 2 hours of life
Day 2+ 280g in 1 ¾ L of warm water twice a day


  • Feeding recommendations based on 42kg Holstein Friesian calf. Adjust accordingly for small calves, twins and other breeds.
  • If disease challenges are high, feed for up to 21 days and then change to milk replacer

Contact us

Bonanza Calf Nutrition

Producers of the renowned Shine range of milk replacers for calves and lambs.


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