The importance of passive transfer of colostral immunity on morbidity, mortality rate, and production has been well documented in calves.1–6 Currently, the prevalence of FPI in dairy heifer calves in the United States is reported as 19.2%.7 Method of colostral administration has been reported to be one of the more important factors that affect passive transfer of colostral immunity.8,9 Colostrum can be administered to calves by OET, NB, or nursing. In 2007 it was reported10 that 59% of dairy operations in the United States hand-fed colostrum from a bucket or NB, 4.3% fed colostrum by OET, and the remainder allowed calves to nurse from the dam.
Studies evaluating the effects of the method of colostral administration on passive immunity have varied in designs, results, and conclusions. Adams et al8 reported that colostral immunoglobulin absorption efficiency was improved when calves were fed through an NB, compared with OET, from 20 to 32 hours after first feeding, presumably because of closure of the esophageal groove directing the colostrum to the abomasum. However, it is not clear from the study whether the differences between the immunoglobulin absorption efficiencies between the NB and the OET group from 20 to 32 hours after first feeding were significantly different. However, the same study8 found no significant differences between serum IgG concentrations from calves fed equal amounts of colostral IgG mass by use of an NB or OET. A limitation to the study by Adams et al8 was that the calves enrolled in the study were of 4 dairy breeds (Holstein, Aryshire, Jersey, and Guernsey) that were fed a total colostrum volume of 10% of their weights, divided into 3 feedings: within 1 hour after birth, at 12 hours after birth, and at 24 hours after birth. Because the calves in that study8 received large total volumes of colostrum during the 24-hour period, all calves achieved adequate passive immunity. The comparison of efficiency of absorption between the NB and OET groups in the study by Adams et al8 was also confounded by the significant breed and season effects. Lateur-Riwett and Breukink11 investigated the anatomic site in which colostrum was deposited, the time it stayed in the forestomachs, and whether it was possible to stimulate esophageal groove closure (by teasing calf to suck on the handler's fingers) when colostrum was administered by OET. The study11 concluded that sufficient absorption of colostral immunoglobulins (on the basis of serum immunoglobulin concentrations at 24 hours after ingestion of colostrum) occurred in tubefed calves in the absence of closure of the esophageal groove because of the rapid flow of colostrum from the forestomachs to the abomasum and small intestine. The drawback in the study by Lateur-Riwett and Breukink11 was that there was no comparison group of calves fed by NB and the 3 Dutch Holstein-Friesian calves enrolled in the study were fed unreported volumes of colostrum by OET, 3 times after birth (8, 12, and 16 hours of age). In a study by Kaske et al,12 colostrum feeding by NB was compared with OET feeding on the basis of 24-hour postsuckle serum immunoglobulin concentration in Holstein-Friesian calves; however, volume of colostrum fed to calves in each group was not standardized. One group of calves was fed 4 L of colostrum through an OET, and the comparison group of calves was fed 2 L through an NB. Additionally, calves that did not ingest the 2 L offered through an NB were fed the remainder of the colostrum by an OET. Similarly, for calves in the OET group that could not swallow the tube or that vigorously resisted tubing, 200 mL of colostrum was fed by NB prior to further OET feeding.12 Therefore, in that study,12 ascertainment of the true effect of feeding method on postsuckle serum immunoglobulin concentrations was further confounded by the overlap in feeding methods.
Prevalence of FPI of colostral immunoglobulins was 61.4%, 19.3%, and 10.8% for dairy calves which nursed from their dams, were fed from an NB, and were fed by OET, respectively.9 Although higher prevalence of FPI was reported in calves fed colostrum by NB, compared with OET in a study by Besser et al,9 calves were only fed once by OET, whereas multiple feedings (immediately after birth followed by feeding every 12 hours for 48 hours) of colostrum were offered to the calves that were fed by NB. In a recent study13 comparing OET with NB feeding, Holstein calves fed small volumes of a colostrum replacer (1.5 L) by NB had higher AEA of colostral immunoglobulins, compared with calves fed a similar volume by OET. Godden et al13 found no differences in serum IgG concentrations and AEA between calves fed larger volumes (3 L) colostrum replacer by NB or OET. However, calves that did not voluntarily ingest 3 L of colostrum through an NB were fed the remainder of the colostrum by OET13; again, the overlap in feeding method confounded determination of the effect of feeding method on AEA of colostrum immunoglobulins and postsuckle serum IgG concentration.
Given the limitations of previous studies designs, the high FPI rate in dairy heifer calves, and the preference by most producers to administer colostrum by NB in the United States, we hypothesized the following: AEA of IgG would be lower in calves fed colostrum by NB, compared with OET; serum immunoglobulin (IgG, IgM, and IgA) concentrations at 48 hours after ingestion of colostrum would be lower in calves fed colostrum by NB, compared with OET; and FPI rates in calves fed colostrum by NB would be higher than in calves fed by OET. The objectives of the study reported here were to compare the AEA of IgG, serum immunoglobulin concentration at 48 hours after ingestion of colostrum, and FPI rates between calves fed colostrum by NB and OET.
Apparent efficiency of absorption
Failure of passive transfer of immunity
20–20 Blue calf milk replacer, Farmer's Warehouse Co Inc, Keyes, Calif.
Cryogenic vial, Corning Inc, Corning, NY.
Sheep anti-bovine IgG, IgM, IgA purified, Bethyl Laboratories, Montgomery, Tex.
Calcium carbonate, Fisher Scientific, Fair Lawn, NJ.
Fisher immunolon IV microtiter plates, Fisher Scientific, Fair Lawn, NJ.
Orbitron rotator I, Boekel Scientific, Feasterville, Pa.
Tris-buffered saline solution, Fischer Scientific, Fair Lawn, NJ.
Biotek plate washer, Biotek Instruments, Winooski, Vt.
Fish skin gelatin, Sigma-Aldrich Laboratories, St Louis, Mo.
Bovine IgG, IgM, IgA purified, Bethyl Laboratories, Montgomery, Tex.
Bovine reference serum (IgG, IgM, IgA), Bethyl Laboratories, Montgomery, Tex.
Sheep anti-bovine HRP conjugate, Bethyl Laboratories, Montgomery, Tex.
Stab-ELISA-r, Cygnus Technologies, Southport, NC.
Enzyme substrate TMB, Moss Inc, Pasadena, Md.
Sulfuric acid, Sigma-Aldrich Laboratories, St Louis, Mo.
Biotek Powerwave HT, Biotek Instruments, Winooski, Vt.
SAS, version 9.2, SAS Institute Inc, Cary, NC.
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