Ask the Vet

Colostrum Replacers or Supplements?

There is considerable difference between a replacer and a supplement.(Photo by Thinkstock/iStock)


We were reading an advertisement for a colostrum replacer. I looked online for more details and found there are several types and price levels. One big difference was the replacer was 130 grams of globulin protein; a supplement by the same company was 20 grams. We normally buy a colostrum supplement with 55 grams of globulin protein, but that company also offers a colostrum replacer, with 150 grams globulin protein. This is all kind of confusing. Can you help?


Don't get hung up on brands. It's more important to focus on what you are trying to accomplish. Select a company in which you or your local supplier have confidence. There is considerable difference in how these products are manufactured and how good they are. Price is no guarantee of quality, but cheap usually is cheap for a reason.

There are essentially two products available: colostrum replacers and colostrum supplements. Supplements contain a much lower concentration of protective antibodies (IgG). They are designed to be used if you are concerned the animal did not receive enough, or got low-quality, colostrum from its mother.

Colostrum replacers, on the other hand, are designed to provide protection for the calf that received no colostrum at all. To be classified as a replacer, a product must be able to raise the blood concentration of IgG above the species standard, which is 10 mg/mL for calves.

Remember, colostrum absorption decreases rapidly to essentially zero at 24 hours. Colostrum should be given to the calf as soon after birth as possible.