Transfer of sufficient immunoglobulin G (IgG) to the neonatal calf via colostrum is vital to provide the calf with immunological protection and resistance against disease. The objective of the present study was to determine the factors associated with both colostral IgG concentration and colostral weight in Irish dairy cows. Fresh colostrum samples were collected from 704 dairy cows of varying breed and parity from four Irish research farms between January and December 2011; colostral weight was recorded and the IgG concentration was determined using an ELISA method. The mean IgG concentration in the colostrum was 112 g/l (s.d. = 51 g/l) and ranged from 13 to 256 g/l. In total, 96% of the samples in this study contained >50 g/l IgG, which is considered to be indicative of high-quality colostrum. Mean colostral weight was 6.7 kg (s.d. = 3.6 kg) with a range of 0.1 to 24 kg. Factors associated with both colostral IgG concentration and colostral weight were determined using a fixed effects multiple regression model. Parity, time interval from calving to next milking, month of calving, colostral weight and herd were all independently associated with IgG concentration. IgG concentration decreased (P < 0.01) by 1.7 (s.e. = 0.6) g/l per kg increase in the colostral weight. Older parity cows, cows that had a shorter time interval from calving to milking, and cows that calved earlier in spring or in the autumn produced colostrum with higher IgG concentration. Parity (P < 0.001), time interval from calving to milking (P < 0.01), weight of the calf at birth (P < 0.05), colostral IgG concentration (P < 0.01) and herd were all independently associated with colostral weight at the first milking. Younger parity cows, cows milked earlier post-calving, and cows with lighter calves produced less colostrum. In general, colostrum quality of cows in this study was higher than in many previous studies; possible reasons include use of a relatively low-yielding cow type that produces low weight of colostrum, short calving to colostrum collection interval and grass-based nutritional management. The results of this study indicate that colostral IgG concentration can be maximised by reducing the time interval between calving and collection of colostrum.