Feeding clean high-quality maternal colostrum is considered the gold standard for getting proper nutrients and antibodies into newborn calves. However, accessing maternal colostrum that is both high in IgG and low in bacterial counts can be a challenge on many dairy operations for a variety of reasons.

In situations where access to quality colostrum is not feasible, a quality colostrum replacer can provide a healthy alternative. However, making a decision on what type of colostrum replacer to purchase can be a daunting task. “The easiest decision sometimes is to simply buy the product with the lowest price,” says Jason Leonard, calf and heifer specialist with Purina Animal Nutrition. “However, it is in the calf’s and dairy’s best interest to make a more informed decision when deciding which colostrum replacer to use.”

Leonard advises calf managers to ask a few important questions prior to making a colostrum replacer purchasing decision:

1. Is this product a true colostrum replacement or is it a colostrum supplement?

2. Is the product made from real bovine colostrum or is it made from blood serum collected at slaughter houses?

3. Is the product labeled with a claim for Bovine IgG or just globulin proteins?

4. Is the product licensed by the USDA as a total replacement for maternal colostrum?