Alchemy Acres
Tip of the Month

Welcome PageDescription of Dairy HerdWhat's New at the Site?Crafts and Nifty StuffAlchemy's MenagerieTip of the MonthPrevious Tips of the MonthOther Resources of Interest

We all are aware that colostrum is life itself. When our does kid, a rich, yellow liquid is produced by the doe for up to three days following parturition. This liquid contains the antibodies which the doe will pass to her kids, thus keeping them safe from most illnesses for the first 30 days of their lives. Usually, she will produce more of this valuable comodity than her kids will need, and you will have some to sell to the local horse, llama, dog, etc. breeders in your area, so it would behoove us all to know how to handle and process the material.

Since we hand raise our kids on pasturized milk, all colostrum MUST be heat-treated. The newborn(s) can absorb the antibodies from the colostrum for about 24 hours following birth, but the sooner she receives this life-protecting liquid, the better. And because kidding is such a busy time, we keep colostrum frozen from previous kiddings to feed the newborn. When the doe's time is near, colostrum is removed from the freezer and placed in warm water to thaw (colostrum is never thawed in the microwave, as that would destroy all those valuable antibodies). As soon as the kid is dried off, the bottle of colostrum is stuffed in her mouth. I like to give the newborn a minimum of 4 ounces of colostrum right after birth and another 4 ounces about 3-4 hours later. In addition to providing antibodies, the colostrum is a laxative which helps the kid to pass that black "tar" which comprises the first feces. If the kid does not soon deficate, she will die. So colostrum is necessary for several reasons.

Even if a person does not hand rear his kids, nor wishes to sell any colostrum to local breeders, there is always the chance that complications from kidding will render a doe unable to provide colostrum to her babies. It is therefore prudent to keep an emergency supply of colostrum in the freezer. So, as we said earlier, we have to know how to heat-treat the colostrum. Heat treating is a bit more involved than pasturizing, mostly because colostrum will turn to custard if it is heated to the temperature of pasturization (165 degrees Fahrenheit), and all the life-saving antibodies will be destroyed. So a different technique must be employed.

The first thing you must do is place the colostrum in a double boiler. Heat the colostrum to 135-140 degrees Fahrenheit. Stir the liquid constantly, as you do not want local "hot spots". Hold this temperature for 1 hour. Some folks just stand at the stove stirring and heating for this hour, but my patience is somewhat deficient. Once the milk has reached the annointed temperature, I pour it into a pre-heated thermous and leave it for one hour. After that hour, the temperature is checked to be certain that the colostrum has not fallen below 135 degrees. Then it is placed in 8 or 16 ounce plastic containers and frozen for future use (or sale). I have found that the old-fashioned, glass-lined thermous will hold temperatures a bit better than the newer stainless models. If the temperature has fallen lower than 135, the process must be repeated. It goes without saying that care must be taken so that you're not having to do this treatment several times before you get it right. I've found that plastic yogurt containers with sturdy lids or the covered plastic take-out glasses at restaurants make handy, cost effective storage containers that you can send off (without regrets or financial loss) with a paying customer. We sell our colostrum for $5/ 8 ounce container.

Your does will give you lots of colustrum - enough to protect the kids and still leave you with an emergency supply in your freezer and some left over for sale. Its up to you to utilize this valuable resource to everyone's advantage. Good luck!!!

Write us with your comments and suggestions.

Welcome PageDescription of Dairy HerdWhat's New at the Site?Crafts and Nifty StuffAlchemy's MenagerieTip of the MonthPrevious Tips of the MonthOther Resources of Interest