Adding selenium to colostrum or a colostrum replacer is not an effective way to improve passive transfer in newborn calves, according to a collaborative research study by scientists at the University of Guelph in Ontario, Canada, and the University of Minnesota.
During the study, researchers fed 122 Holstein calves colostrum from their dam or a commercially available colostrum replacement product. Both treatment groups also received a placebo or 3 parts per million sodium selenite added to their respective colostrum treatment.
Researchers collected blood samples from each calf at birth, before colostrum feeding and 24 hours after colostrum feeding.
The study found that calves fed maternal colostrum had significantly higher serum immunoglobulin G (IgG) concentrations 24 hours after colostrum feeding than calves fed colostrum replacer. Calves fed selenium with their respective colostrum treatment had significantly greater blood selenium concentrations than placebo calves. However, there were no differences in serum IgG levels at 24 hours between calves fed maternal colostrum with selenium and calves fed maternal colostrum without selenium. Likewise, there were no differences in immunoglobulin levels between calves fed colostrum replacer with selenium and those fed colostrum replacer without selenium.
The researchers concluded that supplementing colostrum or colostrum replacer with selenium to improve passive transfer is not necessary.