Thursday, September 3, 2015

Does Feeding More Colostrum Make
a Difference for Immunity?

The research group set up 4 different colostrum feeding procedures: (76 calves, 19 calves per procedure)
  • 3-2-2: That is 3 quarts at birth, 2 more quarts at 6 hours and 2 more quarts at 12 hours.
  • 4-0-2: That is 4 quarts at birth, none at 6 hours and 2 more quarts at 12 hours.
  • 4-0-0: That is 4 quarts at birth and no more later.
  • 2-2-0: That is 2 quarts at birth, 2 more quarts at 6 hours and no more later. 
How did the 48-hour blood test results come out for these treatments? (average for group)

  • 3-2-2    6.37g/dL
  • 4-0-2    6.12g/dL
  • 4-0-0    5.58g/dL
  • 2-2-0    5.66g/dL
Conclusion: Feeding more colostrum gives better results for passive immunity. Note that none of these test values are considered "poor."

My goals for these tests are 95% at or above 5.0g/dL and 75% at or above 5.5. For more on testing for passive transfer of immunity click HERE or go to www.calffacts.com and select "Passive transfer of immunity: How to test for."

One of my clients follows a 4-2-2 protocol (that is, 4 quarts at birth, 2 more quarts at 6 hours and 2 more quarts at 12 hours, (all colostrum at Brix at least 22). I just checked my latest report for them - for the last 616 calves for which blood serum total protein values are available the average value was 6.4g/dL. The 3-2-2 procedure in this research trial came up with about the same results. 

As a side note the research group also kept track of scours and concentrate intake.

The frequency and incidence of scours tended to follow the colostrum intake pattern - more colostrum was associated with lower rates of scours. 

How did the first week post-weaning concentrate intakes compare for these treatments? (56-63 days of age)

  • 3-2-2    3.4 pounds per day (1536g/d)
  • 4-0-0    2.9 pounds per day (1321g/d)
  • 2-2-0    2.6 pounds per day (1162g/d)
Calves receiving higher rates of colostrum ate significantly more concentrate.

Reference: W. Shi and Zhijun Cao, " Effects of colostrum feeding program on passive immunity, health, and performance of Holstein dairy calves." Journal of Dairy Science 98 Suppl 2 p240 abstract 152.

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