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Comparison of colostrum feeding by nipple bottle versus oroesophageal tubing in Holstein dairy bull calves

Munashe Chigerwe BVSc, MPH, PhD, DACVIM1, David M. Coons PhD2, and Jill V. Hagey BS3
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  • 1 Department of Medicine and Epidemiology, School of Veterinary Medicine, University of California-Davis, Davis, CA 95616.
  • | 2 Department of Medicine and Epidemiology, School of Veterinary Medicine, University of California-Davis, Davis, CA 95616.
  • | 3 Department of Medicine and Epidemiology, School of Veterinary Medicine, University of California-Davis, Davis, CA 95616.

Abstract

Objective—To compare the apparent efficiency of absorption of IgG and failure of passive transfer of immunity rates between calves fed colostrum by nipple bottle (NB) and oroesophageal tubing (OET).

Design—Randomized controlled study.

Animals—26 Holstein bull calves (age, 4 to 8 hours).

Procedures—Calves were randomly assigned to receive colostrum by either NB or OET. Pooled colostrum was used for feeding each group of calves. Calves received either a maximum of 4 L of colostrum fed through an NB over a period of 20 minutes or an equivalent volume of colostrum fed by OET. Subsequently, a pair of similarly aged calves received similar volumes of colostrum with similar immunoglobulin concentrations. Colostrum was fed only once. Thereafter, calves were fed 2 L of milk replacer every 12 hours. All calves survived to at least 48 hours of age. Serum samples were collected prior to feeding colostrum and at 48 hours of age for determination of serum immunoglobulin concentrations.

Results—There were no differences in failure of passive transfer of immunity rates and apparent efficiency of absorption of IgG between calves fed by NB or OET. Volume of colostrum fed was the only significant variable in determining failure of passive transfer of immunity in calves at 48 hours.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Reported advantages and disadvantages of either feeding method are likely to be of minimal practical relevance in achieving adequate passive transfer of immunity in calves when calves are fed a similar volume of colostrum with comparable immunoglobulin concentrations.

Contributor Notes

Supported in part by USDA Formula Funds.

The authors thank Susan Novik and Gerald Johnson for technical assistance.

Address correspondence to Dr. Chigerwe (mchigerwe@ucdavis.edu.