freezing colostrum

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barnbum

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My vet called a month ago to ask if I had any frozen colostrum; there was a new mini foal somewhere whose dam didn't have milk yet. I sure wish I could have said yes. (He said I was so super organized with my horses, he checked with me first.
) I planned on asking the vet who comes out in about a month to do the blood draw for pregnancy checks, but thought I'd ask here. How does one collect colostrum without taking what a new foal needs? When would you do the collecting? Before the birth, or after? Is it stored in plastic containers? How long is it good for?

Thanks.
 

Boinky

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Karla,

Never actually had to use it but what i've done is milk the mare and put it in a 16 or 20 ounce soda bottle. Wrap the bottle in aluminum foil because light can kill the colostrum and then plop it in the freezer. I've heard people say they use zip lock baggies or other things. I believe it can last up to 2 years. Usually the mare will produce colostrum for the first 24 hours or so and you can easily milk out plenty to store without interfereing with the foal.

I milked out about 18 Ounces out of a big horse mare this spring that i was foaling out for someone. I used a human breast pump (which by the way worked great on the big horse). againi poured it into a soda bottle and wrapped it. I figured that should be more than enough for a mini foal. I gave it to jen when i moved because i didnt' think it would stand the trip to Kentucky and who know's she might need it or someone else.

Hillary
 

Bess Kelly

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I used to milk some after the foal had gotten theirs, usually about 8-10 hrs out. I'd normally use a breast pump and took it over the course of the next 8-10 hrs, a couple ounces at a time to not deprive my own foal. I put it into heavy freezer bags so that I could take almost all of the air out. and wrapped to protect from light. My preference was to keep it in about 2 oz portions as I could thaw several or only a couple, not to waste it. I would also extract some amount of milk over the next 3 days in a similar fashion, mark mare name, date, etc. on each pkg. In case I needed to help a foal and it was a time when I couldn't get to a place that sold milk......and/or to mix with it to allow a transition.

When I was breeding 20-30 mares a yr, I always had a supply. Vet said it would last 1-1.5 yrs if kept frozen, prepared well, etc. At the time I also had a herd of heavy milking goats who were being freshened frequently for kids to sell (meat goats & nubies).....so, there was a spare freezer in the garage. Some of the goat milk was used by a wildlife rehab guy for fawns. But, it did give me a nice supply of rich milk if needed for a foal. Fortunately, only ever needed it one time for about 2 days. Shared with others on occassion. Vet would call me if he needed such.

OH -- important that when you thaw it is NOT microwaved or heated in a pan. Lukewarm water in a bowl and put the container of milk in there to thaw. Change water to keep it thawing. The smaller sized portions will thaw easier, IMO.
 

Nathan Luszcz

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I usually only collect colostrum from mares who's milk tests 9+ on a densimeter (there is a special name for it, I can't remember it!). There is a neat tool that looks like a graduated cylinder, filled with distilled water. In that water you float a special calibrated bubble filled with the milk. The denser the milk, the more antibodies present. Only the best, most dense milk should be saved. We immediately milk the mare following foaling and test it; the best mares get milked about 8-12oz (big mares, AQHA). This is before the foal gets up. I normally milk by hand, although you can do it other ways too. There is a new tool sold by ARS (www.arssales.com) that makes milking a breeze. The other thing you can do is take a 60cc syringe, remove the the plunger, cut off the pointy end, and replace the plunger backwards. That way, the smooth end is against the mare's udder.
 

MiLo Minis

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I use ice cube trays to freeze colostrum in and then I break the cubes out, wrap them individually in plastic and bag them up in freezer bags for storage. One ice cube makes for a meal thawed as Bess suggests.
 

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