Colostrum Management for lambs

Colostrum (beastings) is the first milk secreted from the ewe after birth. Colostrum contains high levels of antibodies, and has much greater total solids content than whole milk. This is due to the greater levels of fat and protein in colostrum compared to milk which are essential for metabolic fuels to the neonate (NRC, 2001).


Why is feeding colostrum so important?

The newborn is susceptible to infection due to a lack of transfer of immunity across the placenta from its mother. Colostrum provides the young with passive immunity until it can develop its own immunity. In addition to this it is the young’s first source of nutrition and colostrum provides all the essential vitamins and minerals to the neonate.

How much colostrum should a newborn lamb receive?

The recommended volume of colostrum to feed a newborn lamb/kid is 50g of colostrum per kg four times a day. Little and often is key so that the antibodies can be absorbed readily into the bloodstream. Lambs are considered to have a failure of passive transfer of immunity if the antibody (IgG) level is below 15mg/ml at 24 hours after birth. It is important to remember that not all colostrum is equal – colostrum quality is very variable. There are many contributing factors to the quality of colostrum produced by the ewe.

What if the ewe does not produce enough colostrum?

Seeking an alternative source of colostrum, either from another ewe that maybe only had a single or perhaps try and source goat or cow colostrum. It is always a good idea to keep a frozen supply of any extra good quality colostrum. Failing this a colostrum replacer/supplement should be given to the lamb – Read about our Take off colostrum supplement here.

How do I know if it is good quality colostrum?

Colostrum quality can be extremely variable between ewes and flocks. Therefore it is recommended that you test colostrum to know what you are feeding. A refractometer is a useful on-farm tool to use to accurately assess the quality of colostrum. It must read greater than 22% Brix score to be deemed good quality.

Why is hygiene so important?

During the collection of colostrum it is important that it does not get contaminated with dung or any other unhygienic matter. Whether lambs are suckling the ewe or hand fed colostrum it is essential that proper hygiene is applied. May it be that the ewe’s teats are dirty – this is an ideal opportunity for lambs to ingest bacteria. Similarly if the bottle or stomach tube has not been sanitised – you are increasing the risk of bacterial contamination. It is important that sick lambs are not fed using the same equipment as healthy lambs. It is a race between bacteria and colostrum – whichever gets there first wins.

How should I store extra colostrum?

Bacteria multiplies quickly in stored colostrum, especially in warm conditions (> 4°C) and bacterial growth is most rapid in the first 6 hours of storage. Therefore it is important that colostrum is placed in the refrigerator as quickly as possible. Colostrum can be stored in the freezer for up to 1 year without any deterioration in quality.


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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