Few things are as crucial to a newborn calf’s health as the first few hours after birth. Each hour after a beef calf hits the ground determines how well the calf will thrive. Unsurprisingly, this starts with colostrum. “First milk” is more like cream than milk, high in immunoglobulins that prevent infection and in fat, energy, white blood cells and critical vitamins.

Calves that do not get enough colostrum or high-enough quality colostrum by the 24-hour mark are 3.2 to 9.5 times more likely to become sick and 5.4 times more likely to die before weaning. If calves aren’t up and nursing within one hour, producers should consider tube-feeding at least 2 quarts of colostrum replacer before the 6-hour mark.

Read more on newborn calf success here. And read this article for help dealing with heifers that reject their calf.