Can We “Super Charge” Colostrum Using Pre-partum Supplementation?

Project Title

Can We "Super Charge" Colostrum Using Pre-Partum Supplementation?


Michael Steele University of Guelph

Katie Wood (Co-PI), University of Guelph , Koryn Hare, University of Guelph

Status Project Code
In progress. Results expected in January, 2023 POC.23.21


High quality colostrum is essential for calf health and growth. Calves that do not receive adequate amounts of high-quality colostrum after birth are more likely to get sick, have poor performance, or even die. During the final two months of gestation cows experience an increased nutrient demand due to exponential fetal growth meaning cow nutrition is critical at this point to maintain adequate cow condition as well as colostrum production. Previous work has shown that cows supplemented prior to calving showed minimal calf size effects but an increase in colostrum quality and output.


Evaluate if pre-partum energy supplementation for either 3 or 6 weeks prepartum can increase the quality and quantity of beef colostrum, as well as the impact of this supplementation on passive transfer, calf growth, and health status.

What they will do

This group wants to look at if providing cows with supplemental energy 3- or 6-weeks pre-calving will result in higher colostrum quality and healthier calves. They will use 75 crossbred cows bred using AI. Cows will either be control (no supplement), 3WK (125%E requirements for 3 weeks pre calving) or 6WK (125%E requirements for 6 weeks pre calving). Calving, cow, calf, and colostrum parameters will be measured. Pairs will be followed for 8 weeks post calving and calf weening weights will also be recorded.


This project will provide more information to evaluate if supplementing cows prior to calving can improve colostrum quality and therefore calf health. They will also evaluate if this will have an effect of calf body weight and calving difficulties.