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Use of stored equine colostrum for the treatment of foals perceived to be at risk for failure of transfer of passive immunity

Laura C. NathEquine Centre, University of Melbourne, Werribee, VIC 3030, Australia.

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Garry A. AndersonFaculty of Veterinary Science, University of Melbourne, Werribee, VIC 3030, Australia.

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Catherine J. SavageEquine Centre, University of Melbourne, Werribee, VIC 3030, Australia.

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Angus O. McKinnonGoulburn Valley Equine Hospital, 905B Goulburn Valley Hwy, Congupna, VIC 3633, Australia.

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Abstract

Objective—To assess the use of stored equine colostrum for the treatment of foals perceived to be at risk for failure of transfer of passive immunity (FTPI).

Design—Cohort study.

Animals—232 Thoroughbred foals and 191 Thoroughbred mares (41 mares gave birth to 1 foal on 2 occasions).

Procedures—Postpartum, presuckle colostrum samples were collected from mares; samples with a colostral refractive index (cRI) ≥ 23% were frozen (−20°C [–4°F]) and stored for ≥ 7 days but < 2 years. Foals of dams that produced colostrum with a cRI value < 20% were treated with ≥ 300 mL of stored colostrum that was thawed and administered via nasogastric tube on 1 to 4 occasions within 6 hours after parturition. Serum samples were obtained from colostrum-treated and nontreated foals 24 hours after treatment or suckling, respectively, for determination of serum IgG (sIgG) concentration.

Results—8 foals and their respective dams were excluded from the analyses. For the remaining 30 treated and 194 nontreated foals, mean ± SD sIgG concentration was 1,597 ± 574 mg/dL. Thirteen (5.8%) foals had sIgG concentrations < 800 mg/dL, of which 1 (0.4%) had an sIgG concentration < 400 mg/dL. Nine of these foals had suckled mares producing colostrum with a cRI value ≥ 20%, and 2 foals had been treated with stored colostrum.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Treatment with stored colostrum appeared to be effective for prevention of FTPI in at-risk foals. However, foals were still at risk for FTPI despite suckling of or treatment with colostrum with adequate cRI values.

Abstract

Objective—To assess the use of stored equine colostrum for the treatment of foals perceived to be at risk for failure of transfer of passive immunity (FTPI).

Design—Cohort study.

Animals—232 Thoroughbred foals and 191 Thoroughbred mares (41 mares gave birth to 1 foal on 2 occasions).

Procedures—Postpartum, presuckle colostrum samples were collected from mares; samples with a colostral refractive index (cRI) ≥ 23% were frozen (−20°C [–4°F]) and stored for ≥ 7 days but < 2 years. Foals of dams that produced colostrum with a cRI value < 20% were treated with ≥ 300 mL of stored colostrum that was thawed and administered via nasogastric tube on 1 to 4 occasions within 6 hours after parturition. Serum samples were obtained from colostrum-treated and nontreated foals 24 hours after treatment or suckling, respectively, for determination of serum IgG (sIgG) concentration.

Results—8 foals and their respective dams were excluded from the analyses. For the remaining 30 treated and 194 nontreated foals, mean ± SD sIgG concentration was 1,597 ± 574 mg/dL. Thirteen (5.8%) foals had sIgG concentrations < 800 mg/dL, of which 1 (0.4%) had an sIgG concentration < 400 mg/dL. Nine of these foals had suckled mares producing colostrum with a cRI value ≥ 20%, and 2 foals had been treated with stored colostrum.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Treatment with stored colostrum appeared to be effective for prevention of FTPI in at-risk foals. However, foals were still at risk for FTPI despite suckling of or treatment with colostrum with adequate cRI values.

Contributor Notes

Supported by the Goulburn Valley Equine Hospital and the University of Melbourne.

The expense of laboratory tests was paid for by the owners of individual horses.

Address correspondence to Dr. Nath (lc_fennell@yahoo.com.au).