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Effect of nutritional plane on health and performance in dairy calves after experimental infection with Cryptosporidium parvum

Theresa L. OllivettDepartments of Clinical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14850.

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Daryl V. NydamPopulation Medicine and Diagnostic Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14850.

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Thomas C. LindenPopulation Medicine and Diagnostic Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14850.

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Dwight D. BowmanMicrobiology and Immunology, College of Veterinary Medicine, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14850.

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Michael E. Van AmburghDepartment of Animal Science, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14850.

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Abstract

Objective—To evaluate the effect of nutritional plane on health and performance of dairy calves after infection with Cryptosporidium parvum.

Design—Randomized, controlled trial.

Animals—20 Holstein bull calves.

Procedures—Calves were assigned to a higher plane of nutrition (HPN; 0.30 Mcal intake energy/kg of metabolic body weight using a 28% protein-20% fat milk replacer) or conventional nutrition (CN; 0.13 Mcal intake energy/kg of metabolic body weight using a 20% protein-20% fat milk replacer). Calves were inoculated with C parvum oocysts at 3 days old. Fecal and health scores, oocyst counts, weight gain, dry matter intake, and hematologic variables were measured for 21 days. Data were analyzed with nonparametric and regression methods.

Results—Body weight (day 1), serum total protein concentration (day 3), and PCV (day 3) were not different between groups. Oocyst shedding was not different between groups. The PCV was higher in the CN group (40%), compared with the HPN group (32%) at the end of the study. Fecal scores (FS) improved faster in the HPN group (median, −0.1 FS/feeding), compared with the CN group (median, −0.06 FS/feeding). The HPN calves had better average daily gain (ADG) than did CN calves (median, 433 g/d vs −48 g/d, respectively). Feed efficiency (ADG:dry matter intake ratio) was better for HPN calves than CN calves (median, 131.9 g/kg vs −31.4 g/kg).

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—After a pathogen challenge, calves maintained hydration, had faster resolution of diarrhea, grew faster, and converted feed with greater efficiency when fed a higher plane of nutrition.

Abstract

Objective—To evaluate the effect of nutritional plane on health and performance of dairy calves after infection with Cryptosporidium parvum.

Design—Randomized, controlled trial.

Animals—20 Holstein bull calves.

Procedures—Calves were assigned to a higher plane of nutrition (HPN; 0.30 Mcal intake energy/kg of metabolic body weight using a 28% protein-20% fat milk replacer) or conventional nutrition (CN; 0.13 Mcal intake energy/kg of metabolic body weight using a 20% protein-20% fat milk replacer). Calves were inoculated with C parvum oocysts at 3 days old. Fecal and health scores, oocyst counts, weight gain, dry matter intake, and hematologic variables were measured for 21 days. Data were analyzed with nonparametric and regression methods.

Results—Body weight (day 1), serum total protein concentration (day 3), and PCV (day 3) were not different between groups. Oocyst shedding was not different between groups. The PCV was higher in the CN group (40%), compared with the HPN group (32%) at the end of the study. Fecal scores (FS) improved faster in the HPN group (median, −0.1 FS/feeding), compared with the CN group (median, −0.06 FS/feeding). The HPN calves had better average daily gain (ADG) than did CN calves (median, 433 g/d vs −48 g/d, respectively). Feed efficiency (ADG:dry matter intake ratio) was better for HPN calves than CN calves (median, 131.9 g/kg vs −31.4 g/kg).

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—After a pathogen challenge, calves maintained hydration, had faster resolution of diarrhea, grew faster, and converted feed with greater efficiency when fed a higher plane of nutrition.

Contributor Notes

Dr. Ollivett's present address is Department of Population Medicine, Ontario Veterinary College, University of Guelph, Guelph, ON N1G 2W1, Canada.

Land O'Lakes and Dr. Tom Earleywine provided the milk replacer products used in this study.

Presented in part at the annual meeting of the American Association of Bovine Practitioners, Omaha, September 2009.

The authors thank Desiree Gentile, Lindsay Goodale, Julia Littell, Garth Cummings, Susie Olsen, Jeremy DiBari, Hillary Wentworth, and Megan Cooney for assistance with calf handling and data recording.

Address correspondence to Dr. Nydam (dvn2@cornell.edu).