Composition and properties of bovine colostrum

Colostrum is the initial milk secreted by mammals following parturition, the composition and physicochemical properties of which are highly dynamic and variable. The composition and physicochemical properties of colostrum during the initial post-partum period has not been systematically reviewed for many years, although the topic remains of interest both to milk producers and processors. In this article, the current understanding of the composition of colostrum, i.e. carbohydrates, proteins, growth factors, enzymes, enzyme inhibitors, nucleotides and nucleosides, cytokines, fats, vitamins and minerals, is reviewed. In addition, the physicochemical properties, i.e. pH and buffering capacity, colour, density and specific gravity, osmotic pressure, somatic cell count, properties of casein micelles, ethanol stability and rennet coagulation properties are discussed, as well as the effects of heat-treating colostrum.