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  • Matthew Weeman

The Importance of Feeding the Newborn

If you don’t think it would be good to put in her blood, it is not good to put in the bottle.
  • At birth the intestines of the newborn calf have tiny holes in them that allow everything it eats to be absorbed directly into the blood supply. Understanding this and how it can both help and hurt your newborn lamb, piglet calf or kid is very, very important!

-The first thing to understand is that whatever is eaten the first day will be absorbed directly into the bloodstream. We use this to our advantage by feeding colostrum that sends life-saving antibodies from the mother directly into the baby's blood stream to protect it from diseases on the farm as they grow. But, you must take the good with the bad:

*If the baby comes out of the ewe/sow/cow/doe and lands in manure the baby is going to ingest a lot of bacteria and these bacteria will go directly to the bloodstream putting the animal at risk of sepsis (blood infection) and naval ill (an important disease that will be the subject of a future post).

*When the newborn ingests fluid from the uterus which contains bacteria and possibly viruses, these also go directly to the blood stream.

  • Within 12 hours the baby's ability to absorb things is reduced. Within 24 hours it goes away entirely. Therefore, it is critical to feed enough high quality colostrum early enough that the newborn is able to absorb it. Preferably the colostrum should be fed before the newborn has a chance to ingest feces or other potentially dangerous things from the environment. Anything the baby eats that is loaded with bacteria serves only one purpose-to may your newborn sick.





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