Importance of First Milking

Importance of First Milking

While sometimes called “first milk”, colostrum is actually a pre-milk substance since milk is produced after colostrum. Birth is the event that stops colostrum production and triggers the creation of milk. All else being equal, the sooner after birth colostrum is collected, the higher its quality (measured as percentage of protein) and corresponding levels of immune and growth factors.

The highest quality colostrum is usually collected within the first six hours after birth. This is referred to as first milking colostrum and it is the closest thing to pure colostrum, which is only available immediately after birth. Colostrum from subsequent milkings, if blended with the first, compromises the delicate balance of immune and growth factors found only in first milking colostrum.

Only first-milking colostrum is ever used in clinical and scientific research studies as colostrum quality declines rapidly after birth. Colostrum harvested twelve hours after birth contains only about one-third of the immune and growth factors present at birth and after twenty-four hours, it is less than one-quarter of its original quality.

As little as 125mg of genuine, first-milking colostrum delivered via the oral cavity is sufficient to trigger an immune response. Several times that amount may be required with conventional multiple-milking products. Most colostrum products on the market are a combination of the first five milkings, collected up to 48 hours after birth.

The following table shows how quickly the quality of colostrum declines after birth:

As you can see, time of harvest is of key importance in determining the quality of colostrum. If a product does not claim its source to be from only the first milking, likely it is not. Or, if it cannot back up its claims to be from only the first milking with a certificate of analysis done by an independent laboratory, it is likely not true first milking colostrum.

Genuine first milking colostrum can cost several times as much as colostrum taken from a combination of subsequent milkings. Keep in mind that only the highest quality, first-milking colostrum is used in the thousands of clinical and scientific research studies. Colostrum collected from multiple milkings may not provide the desired results.


Click here to learn how to identify genuine first milking colostrum for yourself.


Click below to see clinical trials examining the relative potency of colostrum based on time of harvest.