Are you thinking about starting a colostrum management program? Running a dairy farm is tough, and starting new practices on your farm can be difficult. In this article, we will begin with a little background on pasteurization and give you some reasons why you should be choosing to do this with your colostrum.

What is Pasteurization?

Pasteurization was developed by Louis Pasteur in 1864. He developed this less aggressive way of gently heating liquids to kill the pathogens found in the air while preserving the quality of the product. Originally he designed this to prevent the spoilage of wine and beer, but it was quickly adopted by the dairy industry as a way to preserve milk for human consumption. As we all know, milk is notorious for rapid bacterial growth when left out and can cause a host of diseases. Bacteria doubles every twenty minutes when colostrum is left out.

Prevent Calf Sickness and Protect Future Profits: The 5-Step checklist for better calf health by Golden Calf Company

Pasteurization works by gently heating the milk to a certain temperature for a certain period of time, then cooled down to a temperature that is ideal for consumption or storage for later usage. Pasteurization stops the growth of pathogens by stopping the functionality of the bacterial cells. It kills, most not all of the bacteria in the milk/colostrum. Pasteurization does NOT equal sterilization! And we definitely do not want to sterilize the colostrum we feed our newborn calves-that would be detrimental to their health and well-being.

minimizing calf sickness

In the world of colostrum, that ideal temperature is 140°F for 60 minutes, then cooled to a feeding temperature of 102°F or a storage temperature of 68°F. This is a lower temperature and longer time than your waste milk pasteurizer’s requirements. This means that you cannot use the same machines and tools that you currently have to begin pasteurizing your colostrum for calves born on your dairy farm. The two machines are designed differently based on the fact that colostrum and whole milk are compositionally different. They must be treated differently and thus have separate machines.

Pros and Cons of Pasteurization


  • Eliminates harmful bacteria such as salmonella, E.coli, various types of mycobacterium, and listeria. 
  • Reduces diseases like Bovine Johne’s Disease and scours.
  • Increases the ability of the calf to absorb the immunoglobulins
  • Helps build the calf’s immune system.


  • It does lower the IgG concentration slightly. This amount of decrease depends on the quality of colostrum before pasteurization and also the amount of colostrum being pasteurized at a time. It has been shown that larger volumes have a greater decrease in IgG concentrations versus a smaller volume.
  • The process of pasteurization thickens colostrum. This means that it could become too thick to feed a calf properly or that it becomes so thick that it is not usable at all, especially if the colostrum turns into a pudding-like consistency. 
  • Pasteurization does NOT fix low-quality colostrum.
  • The cost and maintenance of the pasteurization equipment.
  • The added cost and time in training employees how to properly use and maintain the machines.


Now, it looks like the Cons may outweigh the Pros, but that really isn’t the case. The mere fact that it reduces the number of harmful bacteria found in fresh unpasteurized colostrum, will save you loads in regards to time and money. Think of how much money and time is spent on veterinary bills when caring for sick calves and the cost of euthanizing a sick animal. Also, spending a little extra time in training employees, and money in purchasing a pasteurizer, like the Calf Hero, goes a long way when it affects the future profitability of your upcoming herds. Also, always test the quality of your colostrum with a digital refractometer, to make sure you are giving each calf born the highest quality colostrum available, as you want to make sure that each calf born gets the very best start to life. That starts with having the right tools.

Prevent Calf Sickness and Protect Future Profits: The 5-Step checklist for better calf health by Golden Calf Company