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J Dairy Sci. 2014 Sep;97(9):5700-8. doi: 10.3168/jds.2013-7854. Epub 2014 Jul 11.

Addition of gut active carbohydrates to colostrum replacer does not improve passive transfer of immunoglobulin G in Holstein dairy calves.

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Department of Population Medicine, Ontario Veterinary College, University of Guelph, Guelph, Ontario, Canada, N1G 2W1. Electronic address:
Department of Veterinary Population Medicine, University of Minnesota, St. Paul 55108.
Department of Veterinary Microbiology, Western College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada, S7N 5B4; The Saskatoon Colostrum Co. Ltd., Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada, S7K 6A2.
Department of Population Medicine, Ontario Veterinary College, University of Guelph, Guelph, Ontario, Canada, N1G 2W1.


The primary objective of this study was to investigate the effects of supplementing a commercial colostrum replacer (CR) with gut active carbohydrates (GAC) on passive transfer of IgG in commercial dairy calves. A secondary objective was to evaluate the effect of treatment on preweaning health and growth. A total of 240 newborn Holstein dairy calves on a commercial dairy farm were enrolled in this study. Newborn heifer and bull calves were weighed and then randomly assigned to either the treated group [GAC: 30g of GAC mixed into 1.5 doses (150g of IgG) of commercial colostrum replacer; n=119] or the control group [CON: 1.5 doses (150g of IgG) of CR; n=121]. The assigned CR treatment was fed within 3.5h of birth using an esophageal tube feeder. Venous blood samples were collected at 0 and 24h of age and used to measure serum IgG (mg/mL) and serum total protein (g/dL) concentrations and to estimate the apparent efficiency of absorption of IgG (%). The 129 heifers calves enrolled (CON=60; GAC=69) were also followed until weaning to assess the effect of GAC addition on preweaning health and growth. Multivariable linear regression showed that the addition of GAC to CR did not influence passive transfer of IgG, as measured by apparent efficiency of absorption at 24h of age (CON=54.0 vs. GAC=54.3%), serum IgG (CON=20.3 vs. GAC=20.2mg/mL), and serum total protein (CON=5.69 vs. GAC=5.68g/dL). Although study sample sizes were not originally derived to evaluate health outcomes, treatment had no effect on weight gain or incidence of health events (diarrhea, pneumonia, mortality) for heifer calves between birth and 7 wk of age.


colostrum replacer; gut active carbohydrates; immunoglobulin absorption; passive transfer

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