Don’t overlook the label

Jun 5, 2024 | Educational Blog

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Author: Adam Wood, CentralStar A.I. Specialist

When it comes to protecting a newborn calf, every decision matters. That’s why checking the labels of the products you use is essential to ensure they deliver what your calf needs. Recently, during a visit to my local farm store, I took a closer look at various colostrum replacers on the market. What I discovered was eye-opening, especially when it came to the most critical component: Immunoglobulins (IgG).

IgG levels are the most important factor in colostrum replacers as they provide passive immunity to newborn calves, which safeguards them against diseases until their immune systems mature. The research-based recommended IgG concentration is 150, yet many of the products in the store had a mere 50 IgG. While other components like fat, protein, vitamins, and minerals seemed similar across brands, it’s the IgG level that really matters for the calf’s long-term health. At $20 a package, this deficiency means you would spend $60 to purchase enough colostrum supplement to get the necessary 150 IgG level.

Now, let’s compare what I found in the farm store to First Day Formula CR®, a colostrum replacer available through CentralStar and the one that I use. First Day Formula CR contains the recommended 150 IgG. It also includes bio-available vitamins and trace minerals and is made with 100% dried bovine colostrum from U.S. Grade A dairies. At $39.25 per 500 grams (equivalent to 1 dose which contains 150 IgG), it is the better buy to protect your calves.

But there’s more. Two factors that aren’t as easy to evaluate from the label that are important include mixability and taste. Over the 30 years I’ve raised beef cattle I’ve tried many products and First Day Formula CR is hands-down the best mixing product on the market, plus calves drink it willingly. In the past I’ve found calves resist the lower quality products which reduces intake and ultimately can lead to future health problems, defeating the whole purpose.

When looking at products for your herd, don’t just go to the farm store as you run the risk of buying inferior products. Before your calving and breeding seasons, review labels and stock up on supplies and products that will help ensure a successful season.