DIY Colostrum Thawing & Heating Unit

Oct 06, 2021

Colostrum unit

Build your own Colostrum unit.

As producers are beginning to focus a lot more on their calf health, lowering excess heifer numbers and raising only what they need for replacements, I have been asked a lot about how to properly store, warm, and feed colostrum.  Refrigerating or freezing excess high-quality colostrum (greater than 22% Brix reading) is a great way to ensure each newborn calf receives this vital nutrition at birth.  Because high temperatures can destroy immunoglobulins (IgGs) and other nutrients, colostrum should be carefully thawed and warmed before feeding it to the calf.  Producers can easily build their own colostrum thawing and heating unit to accomplish this task.

Materials needed

  • 50-quart cooler with cup holders on the lid. A cooler with a split lid (as shown in the photo) makes for easier access without having to disturb the heating unit.  If you will use the unit to warm calf bottles, choose a cooler tall enough for the bottles to fit upright.
  • Sous vide/immersion cooker (Such as Anova Culinary Sous Vide Precision Cooker)
  • 1.5-inch poly washer 
  • Caulk or another waterproof sealant
  • Kitchen cooling rack

To build

  • Carefully cut out the bottom of one of the cup holders on the lid.
  • Place the cooker into the cup holder.  Use the washers to create a seal between the cup holder and the cooker.  Use caulk to seal it in place.
  • Place a kitchen cooling rack at the bottom of the cooler to allow water to completely circulate around the colostrum bag or bottle.

To use

  • Carefully fill the cooler with water, being mindful of water displacement.  You need enough water to cover the cooker’s heating element, but the water level should not rise above the cooker’s max fill line.  Watch the water level closely as you add the colostrum bag or bottle.
  • Secure the bag or bottle so that it does not make direct contact with the cooker.
  • To thaw frozen colostrum:  Set the heater between 120 to 125 degrees F.  Place the frozen package of colostrum in the water.  It takes approximately 30 minutes to thaw the colostrum and warm it to ideal feeding temperature (105 degrees F).
  • To warm refrigerated colostrum:  Set the heater between 105 to 110 degrees F.  It takes approximately 15 to 20 minutes to reach this temperature.  In the winter, you may need to increase the temperature to between 110 to 115 degrees F, depending on how long it will take you to get it to the calf (the ideal feeding temperature is 105 degrees F).

To clean

  • The water can be reused for four to seven days, depending on use.  You may add 1 cup of vinegar to the water bath to eliminate scum buildup as the water sits for a few days.
  • Clean the unit once or twice a week (or more often if needed) by dumping out the water and disinfecting the entire unit.  

For more information on building your own colostrum unit, or the importance of implementing one of Land O’Lakes calf care products into your operation, please contact your local Premier nutritionist.


Heather Downing

Purina Animal Nutrition

Latest Posts

Aug 29, 2023
Every day is a great day to be in the beef business and this year has proved to be another excellent year in the cow/calf   and feedlot sectors of beef production. 
Aug 29, 2023
I hope you all had a fantastic August. Although we had a few days of hot weather toward the end of the month, cooler days are coming. It’s less than 120 days until winter. Soon we’ll be digging out the warm clothing and finding our boots to prepare for the colder weather that is surely on its way. If you haven’t locked in your propane supply but would still like to, please call your local Premier Energy office to see if the lock in price has changed.
Aug 29, 2023

I hope everyone had the chance to enjoy the Independence Day holiday with family and friends. Thanks to all of you who called in your orders early so our staff could adjust to the mid-week holiday and help minimize the added pressure that the short work week brings. I’d also like to thank all of you who returned your propane contracts by the end of June. With a short window of when contracts are mailed to when they are due back, we really appreciate your patience and support. If reading this reminded you that your contract is still sitting on the kitchen table, just pick up the phone and call the energy office nearest to you. I’m sure we’ll be able to take care of you. The last of the propane contracts (Cap renewals) and safety mailings will be sent out later this month. On behalf of our energy team and everyone at your cooperative, thank you for choosing us to serve your propane needs again this year.