Calves fed maternal colostrum had significantly higher passive transfer of immunity than calves fed a colostrum replacer, according to a study in the August Journal of Dairy Science.
The study found that serum immunoglobulin G and serum total protein were significantly higher in calves fed an industry-recommended volume of maternal colostrum versus calves fed one dose of a plasma-derived colostrum replacer containing 125 grams of IgG. However, health and death loss of calves fed the replacement product were not statistically different than that of calves fed maternal colostrum. For more details, please see the table below.
Despite the unfavorable passive transfer results, colostrum replacers still have merit.
“Colostrum replacers represent a very useful tool in situations when adequate quantities of clean, high-quality maternal colostrum are not available,” says Sandra Godden, veterinarian at the
Regardless of the product you use, monitor the results by assessing passive transfer in the calves, Godden says.
Passive transfer and pre-weaning health of calves fed maternal colostrum or a colostrum replacer
Maternal colostrum Colostrum replacer
Average serum IgG1 14.8 mg/ml 5.8 mg/ml
Average serum total protein2 5.5 g/dl 4.6 g/dl
Proportion with failure of passive transfer3 28 percent 93.1 percent
Proportion treated for illness 51.9 percent 59.6 percent**
Total days treated per calf 1.7 days 2 days**
Treatment cost per calf $10.84 $11.88**
Proportion of calves that died 10 percent 12.4 percent**
1 Serum IgG greater than 10 mg/ml is the goal for successful passive transfer.
2 Serum total protein greater than 5 g/dl is the goal for successful passive transfer.
3 As defined by serum IgG less than 10 mg/ml and serum total protein less than 5 g/dl.
** Though numerically higher, it is not considered to be statistically different.
Source: August 2007 Journal of Dairy Science