Brix refractometry in serum as a measure of failure of passive transfer compared to measured immunoglobulin G and total protein by refractometry in serum from dairy calves

D. Hernandez, D. V. Nydam, S. M. Godden, L. S. Bristol, A. Kryzer, J. Ranum, D. Schaefer

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A series of trials were conducted to evaluate Brix refractometry (Brix %) for the assessment of failure of passive transfer (FPT) in dairy calves compared to: (1) serum IgG (reference standard) when measured by radial immunodiffusion (RID) or a turbidometric immunoassay (TIA), and (2) serum total protein refractometry (STP).For the serum samples tested with TIA, STP, and Brix % (n = 310; Holstein calves), the median concentrations were 21.3 g/L IgG, 58 g/L STP, and 9.2%, respectively. For the serum samples tested with RID, STP and Brix % (n = 112; Jersey calves), the mean concentrations were 38 g/L IgG, 68 g/L STP, and 10.2%, respectively. For samples tested with only Brix % and STP (n = 265; Holstein calves), median STP and Brix % were 50 g/L STP and 8.5%, respectively. Correlations between Brix % and RID, and between Brix % and TIA were equal (r = 0.79, respectively). Brix % and STP were positively correlated (r = 0.99). Brix % estimated serum IgG concentrations determined by TIA and RID (r2 = 0.63, 0.62, respectively). When FPT was defined as serum IgG < 10 g/L, Brix % ≤ 8.5% showed optimal sensitivity (100%) and specificity (89.2%) to predict FPT. At the same IgG cut-point, an STP value of ≤ 52 g/L showed a similar sensitivity (100%) and specificity (80.4%) to predict FPT. Brix refractometry predicted successful transfer of passive immunity in dairy calves, but further evaluation as a diagnostic tool for the diagnosis of FPT is warranted.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)82-87
Number of pages6
JournalVeterinary Journal
StatePublished - May 1 2016



  • Brix refractometer
  • Calf
  • Failure of passive transfer
  • Immunoglobulin
  • Serum total protein

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