Passive transfer of immunoglobulin G and preweaning health in Holstein calves fed a commercial colostrum replacer

H. Swan, S. Godden, R. Bey, S. Wells, J. Fetrow, H. Chester-Jonest

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The objective of this study was to describe passive transfer of IgG and preweaning health in newborn calves fed a commercially available plasma-derived colostrum replacement (CR) product or maternal colostrum (MC). Twelve commercial Holstein dairy farms enrolled singleton newborn heifer calves to be fed fresh MC (n = 239 calves) or one dose of CR containing 125 g of Ig (n = 218 calves) as the first colostrum feeding. For 7 of these farms that routinely provided a second feeding of 1.9 L of MC to their calves 8 to 12 h after the first colostrum feeding, calves assigned to the CR treatment group were offered a second feeding consisting of 1.9 L of commercial milk replacer supplemented with one dose of a commercially available plasma-derived colostrum supplement, containing 45 g of Ig per dose, 8 to 12 h after the first colostrum feeding. A blood sample was collected from all calves between 1 to 8 d of age for serum IgG and total protein (TP) determination, and records of all treatment and mortality events were collected until weaning. Serum IgG and TP concentrations were significantly higher in calves fed MC (IgG = 14.8 ± 7.0 mg/mL; TP = 5.5 ± 0.7 g/dL) compared with calves fed CR (IgG = 5.8 ± 3.2 mg/mL; TP = 4.6 ± 0.5 g/dL). The proportion of calves with failure of passive transfer (serum IgG <10.0 mg/mL) was 28.0 and 93.1% in the MC and CR treatment groups, respectively. Though a trend was present, the proportion of calves treated for illness was not statistically different for calves fed MC (51.9%) vs. CR (59.6%). Total number of days treated per calf (MC = 1.7; CR = 2.0), treatment costs per calf (MC = $10.84; CR = $11.88), and proportion of calves dying (MC = 10.0%; CR = 12.4%) was not different between the 2 colostrum treatment groups. The mean serum total protein concentration predictive of successful passive transfer (serum IgG = 10 mg/mL) was 5.0 g/dL in calves fed MC or CR. Long-term follow-up of these calves (to maturity) is ongoing to describe the effects of feeding CR on longevity, productivity, risk for Johne's disease, and economics.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3857-3866
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Dairy Science
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2007



  • Colostrum replacement
  • Failure of passive transfer
  • Immunoglobulin

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