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What is the best equine colostrum supplement?

Discuss normal, abnormal and immediate post-foaling issues.

Moderator: Jos

What is the best equine colostrum supplement?

Postby oakleaf218 » Mon Apr 01, 2013 8:44 am

Hi Jos,

I was wondering what brand of colostrum is best to keep on hand for foaling season. I have read about Seramune being a good product, but I do not know if there are better products out there. We lost a foal last year to septicemia in spite of expensive treatment, so I would like to have colostrum on hand.

Also, a large farm near here mentioned to me that they give all of their newborn foals colostrum, regardless of whether the mare has her own colostrum. Their rationale was that the foal was valuable enough to justify spending $85 for colostrum. Is there any potential harm to a foal by doing this? Can they get too much colostrum? We have eight foals coming this year, so I am considering colostrum supplementation as part of my post-foaling routine. Are the cheaper $12 paste "colostrum supplements" of any value? When I read the label, they seem to be more for appetite stimulation than immunity.

lastly, if I go with seramune, the label recommends two doses of 150 ml within two hours. This seems like a lot of liquid to try to get into a newborn foal. Any advice on administration would be helpful. I normally use a 60 ml. oral syringe, but if I have to give a foal five of these, is it best to give one syringe every 20 minutes or so or try to go for the whole 150 ml. in one session?

Thank you for your guidance,

Autumn
oakleaf218
Nursing Foal
 
Posts: 11
Joined: Mon Jun 18, 2012 2:33 pm

Re: What is the best equine colostrum supplement?

Postby wolfwoman » Tue Apr 02, 2013 3:23 am

I am certainly no expert, but in my humble opinion, the best colostrum is the kind saved and frozen from the mare or mares. Horse serum is the next best (must be administered by a vet) and Seramune is probably the third best. We had a donkey jack foal this spring that could not nurse due to edema in his mother's udder. Our vet checked his IgG which was zero. No immunity. He adminstered horse serum to the foal twice and the baby's IgG came up to normal.
The key is having the foals IgG checked at the appropriate time.
Brenda Weddle
Forever Home Farm
wolfwoman
Breeding Stock
 
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Location: Gleason TN USA

Re: What is the best equine colostrum supplement?

Postby Jos » Tue Apr 02, 2013 10:30 am

I think there are a couple of different angles to look at this from... :)

As far as simplicity is concerned, undoubtedly the best is to have some colostrum taken from another mare (or the same mare in a prior year) on the foaling farm that has been stored correctly. the significance of having the colostrum from a mare on the same farm is that she will (hopefully) have antibodies to pathogens present on that farm and consequently transfer those in the colostrum. This of course is also the cheapest solution, but does have some potential inherent problems: If you don't have access to such a mare, then you won't have the colostrum; if the foal is not tested for IgG levels prior to about 12 hours post-foaling, oral supplementation may be minimally successful; and if you have a foal whose gut is not absorbing IgGs, then oral supplementation as a whole - with colostrum or some other oral product - will be no good. If using colostrum it is also important to make sure that it is not going to cause neonatal isoerythrolysis - unlikely, but still important to make sure that the source mare has not had such a problem with a foal in the past.

Plasma has the advantage of ensuring an increase of systemic IgG levels as it is introduced directly to the blood system. One can even get hyper-immune plasma that can target pathogens specific to an individual region or problem. The disadvantages of plasma are that it must be administered IV, which will typically require veterinary involvement (added cost) and has increased risks for the well-being of the foal; and that the product is more expensive. One other indirect issue with plasma is that it is often given as a result of being outside the oral supplementation "window", and that the delay in this has allowed the foal time to be exposed to environmental pathogens prior to gaining immune protection against those pathogens - early supplementation is obviously preferable.

Oral commercial products such as Seramune are beneficial in that they can be given in the first 15 hours after foaling and increase IgG levels in foals that are able to absorb IgG through the gut. They are easily administered by the lay person, so do not require veterinary involvement and have a good shelf-life for storage (typically 2-3 years) while being cheaper than plasma. Disadvantage is that one must administer them prior to the gut closure that occurs from about 15 hours onwards (well, technically it starts considerably earlier than that, but by 15 hours absorption ability reduction is significant). Note that it is always advisable to retest the foal's IgG levels a couple of hours after administering any supplement to ensure that levels have risen >800 mg/dl, and further supplementation may be indicated if they have not. We do recommend that at least 2 containers of supplement (colostrum or Seramune) be available so that additional supplementation may be performed if indicated.

Do remember that no matter what form supplementation takes, it is not an absolute guarantee against the foal developing neonatal septicaemia. Protection will only be against pathogens for which antibodies are present in the supplement. Consequently, even if the foal was supplemented, or has demonstrated suitably high IgG levels, in the event of an indication of illness (elevated temperature, lack of thrift etc.) have the foal evaluated by the veterinarian immediately!

A good plan is indeed to provide the foal with colostrum early - milking the mare while she is still down (if she will let you) and giving it to the foal is one action many perform. Some farms give a commercial supplement such as Seramune, which may have merit, but also may not carry antibodies specific to pathogens present on the farm, which colostrum from a resident mare likely would. Also bear in mind that when the foal's stomach is full - be it with colostrum from the mare or a commercial supplement - it is going to be less likely to nurse directly from the mare, and that may impact transmission of IgG from the mare (with the specific IgG content) as well as the bonding process between mare and foal.

We prefer to stick with confirmed IgG content products rather than the "$12 supplements" - the latter are typically specifically supplements, not replacements such as plasma or Seramune. I will note that we do not routinely administer IgG supplements/replacements, but do test the foals IgG levels at 9-12 hours after foaling, and only if found to be low do we supplement.

As far as the "how", the foal will tell you that! It's typically a matter of practicality! :D
We're always happy to try and help, but don't forget to check the articles section
of the website too, which has a search engine to help you look for answers!
:)
User avatar
Jos
Senior Stallion or Mare
 
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Re: What is the best equine colostrum supplement?

Postby oakleaf218 » Thu Apr 11, 2013 3:05 pm

Hi Jos,

Thank you very much for your detailed reply. I have eight mares that will foal this year, so if I want to save some colostrum from one or more of them, how do I kow how much I can safely freeze without jeopardizing the newborn foal the mare is nursing? Also, can it be frozen in a 60 ml. syringe, and should the syringe be double wrapped in some way for better preservation -- freezer paper perhaps? Do I need a sterile syringe or can I use a new 60 ml. feeding tube syringe? How long will the colostrum keep in the freezer?

Kindest Regards,

Autumn
oakleaf218
Nursing Foal
 
Posts: 11
Joined: Mon Jun 18, 2012 2:33 pm

Re: What is the best equine colostrum supplement?

Postby Jos » Thu Apr 11, 2013 6:04 pm

Obviously the amount that can be safely milked off a mare without depriving the foal will be situation-dependent. If the colostrum is good quality, then the foal will need less. Usually if the foal at foot has had 2 really good nursings, you are safe to milk some off - 250 ml is usual.

You would do better to freeze it in either a Zip-Loc bag or a baby bottle liner, as they are air-tight, which a syringe may not be once subjected to lowering temperatures of the freezer. I suppose one could put the syringe into a bag though. If you do elect to use a syringe, make sure it's an all-plastic syringe (no rubber plunger). And you'll have to thaw it out in the bag (which will be slower) as you don't want the thaw water to contaminate the colostrum.
We're always happy to try and help, but don't forget to check the articles section
of the website too, which has a search engine to help you look for answers!
:)
User avatar
Jos
Senior Stallion or Mare
 
Posts: 3948
Joined: Sun Jun 10, 2012 12:11 am


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