This information is provided by Provet for educational purposes only.
You should seek the advice of your veterinarian if your pet is ill as only he or she can correctly advise on the diagnosis and recommend the treatment that is most appropriate for your pet.
Colostrum is very important for neonatal animals - but what is it ?
Colostrum is the first milk produced by the mammary glands - just before and after the mother gives birth. It is thicker than milk produced later in lactation and it is important not only for it's nutritive value, but because it contains antibodies against a variety of infectious diseases. In the newborn animal the intestinal tract is permeable and allows these antibodies to pass into the bloodstream, so the colostrum provides the young animal with passive immunity before it's own immune system is fully developed and can mount it's own reaction to fight off infections.
Owners of pregnant animals should try to ensure that the newborn feed as soon as possible after birth. Neonatal animals that do not receive colostrum are more likely to develop and succumb to infectious diseases in the first few weeks of life.
Sometimes the antibodies transferred to young animals in colostrum can inactivate the effects of a vaccine, so timing of vaccination has to be delayed for several weeks until the passive immunity has waned.
Updated October 2013