With foaling season getting under way, the Kentucky Horse Council reports that the colostrom bank in central Kentucky, at Hagyards, Rood and Riddle and Woodford Equine Hospital, is in dire need of donations..
Woodford is out of colostrum and Hagyards and Rood and Riddle have only low levels.
Mare owners are asked to donate as much colostrom as possible to ensure that new foals will receive the much needed immunoglobulin if the foaling mare is not able to provide colostrom. Those who are able to donate colostrom may pick up containers at any of the equine hospitals.
A good supply of colostrom is needed because In some cases a foal does not receive enough colostrum and a failure of passive transfer occurs. The necessity of colostrum can become a life and death matter if the foal does not receive a sufficient amount from the mare fo whatever reason.
Colostrum is the mare's first milk which contains important immunoglobulins capable of protecting the foal from infection during its first months of life. The foal doesn't begin producing these until it is born.
Passive transfer of immunoglobulin from mare to foal via colostrum ensures that the newborn will have a line defense until its immune system is up and running. Produced in the mare's udder during the last 2-4 weeks of gestation in response to hormonal changes, colostrum is only produced once during the pregnancy.
It is replaced with normal milk within 12 hours from the time the foal first suckles. Good quality colostrum is typically sticky, thick, and yellow, though appearance can be misleading and shouldn't be the only factor used to determine whether passive transfer has occurred. The mare will produce approximately 300 ml of colostrum per hour, and generally produces 5 liters in the first 18 hours.