In his most recent edition of “Calf Notes,” renowned calf researcher Jim Quigley reviews a recently published Cornell University study that evaluated the effects of administering an injectable trace-mineral supplement to young dairy calves.

The study, conducted on two Upstate New York dairy farms, involved 790 Holstein calves. Half of the calves were injected with a trace-mineral (TM) supplement containing 60 mg zinc, 10 mg manganese, 5 mg selenium and 15 mg copper in a 1-mL dose. Injections were administered on days 3 and 30 after birth. Calves in the control group received no injections.

Colostrum delivery and passive transfer of immunity were similarly excellent in both herds.

Results showed:

  • Calves that were injected with TM had a lower incidence of diarrhea and respiratory infections compared to control calves.
  • Serum TM levels and bodyweight gain did not differ between the two groups.
  • Measures of immunity and oxidative stress were improved when calves were injected with TM.

Quigley advised these results should be evaluated with three important considerations in mind: (1) dry-cow management was not factored into the evaluation; (2) both farms had a relatively high incidence of scours and respiratory disease compared to industry standards; and (3) all calves in the study were fed waste milk rather than milk replacer, which usually are supplemented with trace minerals.

Still, Quigley concluded, “this well-done study suggests newborn calves could benefit from injection of TM shortly after birth. Improved TM status affects immunity and can help protect calves from disease. It’s important to put the relative response observed in this study into perspective with relative health status on other farms.”

Quigley’s full summary of the study can be read here.

Source: Calf Note #182