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

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 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

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Funding for the current study was provided by Alltech Inc. (Brookings, SD) . In-kind support was provided by Land O’ Lakes Animal Milk Products (St. Paul, MN) and the Saskatoon Colostrum Co. (Saskatoon, SK). The authors thank the owners and staff of Emerald Dairy II (Emerald, WI) for their cooperation with the study and acknowledge the hard work of University of Minnesota DVM student Erika Nagorske in conducting this study.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2015 American Dairy Science Association.


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


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