Short communication: Effect of feeding pooled and nonpooled high-quality colostrum on passive transfer of immunity, morbidity, and mortality in dairy calves

Ailbhe King, Munashe Chigerwe, John Barry, John P. Murphy, Maire C. Rayburn, Emer Kennedy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Pooling colostrum is commonly practiced on Irish dairy farms. Pooling can result in dilution when colostrums with high and low IgG concentrations are mixed, thereby predisposing calves to failure of passive immunity. The objectives of this study were to compare IgG concentrations in colostrum from individual cows with colostrum pooled from several cows, and assess serum IgG concentrations, morbidity, and mortality among calves fed colostrum from their own dam, from a different cow, or pooled from several cows. We hypothesized that pooling colostrum reduces IgG concentration due to dilution compared with colostrum from individual cows, and that calves fed pooled colostrum achieve lower serum IgG concentrations than calves fed colostrum from individual cows. Calves were randomly assigned to 1 of 3 groups: (1) fed colostrum from their own dam (n = 20); (2) fed colostrum from a different dam (n = 20); or (3) fed pooled colostrum (n = 18). A sample of colostrum fed to each calf was collected. Serum samples were collected from calves at birth (0 h) and at 24 h after colostrum feeding. Colostrum and serum IgG concentrations were measured by radial immunodiffusion. Calves were weighed at birth and at weaning, and the health status of each calf was assessed twice daily. Health assessment was based on general demeanor, rectal temperature, fecal consistency, respiratory rate, and the presence of cough, nasal, or ocular discharge. Colostrum and serum IgG concentrations, and weaning weights were compared using ANOVA. Associations between group and morbidity or mortality rates were compared using χ2 or Fisher's exact tests. Median and 95% confidence intervals (95% CI) of IgG concentrations of colostrum were 99.4 (81.8–111.5), 95.2 (84.1–107.2), and 100.7 (90.5–104.4) g/L for own dam, different dam, and pooled groups, respectively. We did not find any differences in colostrum IgG concentrations among the colostrum sources. Median (95% CI) serum IgG concentrations at 24 h were 52.0 (45.6–65.9), 55.7 (51.2–65.9), and 53.1 (46.2–63.7) g/L for calves that received colostrum from own dam, different dam, and pooled, respectively. All calves achieved adequate passive immunity. Serum IgG concentrations at 24 h, weaning weights, and proportions of morbidity and mortality were not different among the 3 groups. Our results suggest that on dairy farms where median colostrum IgG concentrations are high and colostrum management is optimal, pooling has a minimal effect on passive immunity and subsequent calf health.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1894-1899
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Dairy Science
Volume103
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Feb 2020

Keywords

  • calf
  • colostrum
  • immunoglobulin
  • pooling

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Food Science
  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Genetics

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