Supplementing fresh bovine colostrum with gut-active carbohydrates reduces passive transfer of immunoglobulin G in Holstein dairy calves

M. P. Brady, S. M. Godden, D. M. Haines

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4 Scopus citations


High concentrations of coliform bacteria in maternal colostrum (MC) have been associated with reduced IgG absorption in calves. Mannan-oligosaccharide, a gut-active carbohydrate (GAC) derived from yeast cell wall, has been shown to adsorb pathogens expressing type-1-fimbriae, reducing their ability to colonize the gastrointestinal tract. The objective of this study was to investigate if addition of a GAC to colostrum would result in increased IgG absorption in newborn calves. Newborn Holstein heifer and bull calves were enrolled in summer 2012 at a commercial transition cow facility in western Wisconsin. Each day, 7.6-L pools of fresh, first milking MC were created, split into 3.8-L aliquots, and refrigerated until feeding. Eligible newborn calves were removed from the dam 30 to 60min after birth, weighed, and randomly assigned to be fed either 3.8 L of the MC pool (control) or 3.8 L of the MC pool with 30 g of GAC mixed in immediately before feeding. Duplicate 10-mL samples of colostrum were collected and frozen at -20°C before feeding (and before addition of GAC) for bacterial culture and IgG determination. A 10-mL venous blood sample was collected from calves before feeding colostrum and 24 h after colostrum feeding, for laboratory determination of serum IgG using radial immunodiffusion analysis. Colostrum and calf characteristics, including colostrum IgG concentration (g/L), colostrum bacteria counts (log10, cfu/mL), calf dystocia scores (1 to 4), birth weights (kg), and age at first feeding (min) were not different between the group fed GAC (n=47) and the control group (n=48). Mixed linear regression analysis showed that calves fed colostrum supplemented with 30 g of GAC had lower mean (standard error) apparent efficiency of absorption of IgG and lower serum IgG concentrations at 24 h [23.9% (1.0); IgG=24.0 (1.1) g/L] than did control calves [30.4% (1.0); IgG=30.8 (1.0) g/L]. Given the negative effect observed in this study, it is not recommended that fresh colostrum be supplemented with 30 g of GAC.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)6415-6422
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Dairy Science
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 1 2015



  • Calves
  • Colostrum
  • Gut-active carbohydrate
  • Immunoglobulin
  • Passive transfer

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