Dr. Dick Fredrickson, a veterinarian at Simplot ranches and feedlots of Grandview, ID, says protein deficiency in cows can be a big factor in whether or not their calves do well. If cows don't have adequate protein, they cannot produce adequate colostrum. “This is the key to a healthy calf, all the way through,” says Fredrickson. “This is assuming cows have adequate forage, to supply enough energy. They can utilize low quality forage for energy, if they have enough protein to supplement it, so they can digest it.”

Good quality colostrum is crucial to the newborn calf, to give him energy to keep warm, and antibodies to protect him from disease.

“Inadequate passive immunity from colostrum increases the risk for sickness and death in calves, and decreases average gain in the nursing calf. This follows on through into the feedlot, with higher risk of sickness, respiratory disease and death and a decrease in average daily gain,” says Fredrickson. These deprived calves never got their immune system off to a good start and they never quite make up for it during their growing period.

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