Short communication: Use of a digital refractometer in assessing immunoglobulin G concentrations in colostrum and the first 5 transition milkings in an Irish dairy herd

Maire C. Rayburn, Munashe Chigerwe, John Barry, Emer Kennedy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Transition milk is a source of immunoglobulin G (IgG) and could potentially be used to provide calves with passive immunity, when the IgG concentration is ≥50 g/L. Assessment of IgG concentrations in transition milk would be required before feeding and could be conducted using cow-side tests such as refractometers. Currently, limited information is available on the ability of refractometers to assess transition milk quality. We hypothesized that digital refractometry could be used to provide an accurate cow-side assessment of IgG concentrations in colostrum and transition milk, and IgG concentration in colostrum and one or more transition milking in an Irish herd is >50 g/L. The objectives of this study were to determine the IgG concentrations in colostrum and first, second, third, fourth, and fifth transition milk, and determine the utility of a digital refractometer in assessing quality of colostrum and transition milk produced by cows in a pasture-based dairy production system. A convenient sample of 75 dairy cows were enrolled. Colostrum and transition milk IgG concentrations were determined by radial immunodiffusion and refractometry. Sensitivity and specificity of the refractometer were determined and cut-off points that maximized sensitivity and specificity were determined using receiver operating characteristic curves. Median (range) IgG concentrations in colostrum and first, second, third, fourth, and fifth milking were 99.6, 43.5, 12.5, 5.3, 1.9, and 1.8 g/L, respectively. The sensitivity (0.8–1) of digital refractometry in identifying samples with low IgG concentrations in colostrum, first, second, and third transition milk was acceptable. In contrast, digital refractometry was not useful for assessing IgG concentrations in the fourth and fifth milking due to low IgG concentrations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalJournal of Dairy Science
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 2019

Keywords

  • dairy cow
  • immunoglobulin
  • milk
  • refractometer
  • transition

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Food Science
  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Genetics

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