UBC Faculty Research and Publications

A cross-sectional study of suckling calves’ passive immunity and associations with management routines to ensure colostrum intake on organic dairy farms Johnsen, Julie F; Viljugrein, Hildegunn; Bøe, Knut E; Gulliksen, Stine M; Beaver, Annabelle; Grøndahl, Ann M; Sivertsen, Tore; Mejdell, Cecilie M


Background: For suckling dairy calves, different management routines to ensure sufficient colostrum intake are applied: visual assessment, hand feeding supplemental colostrum or assistance. However, knowledge on the efficacy of these methods to prevent failure of passive transfer [FPT: serum immunoglobulin (IgG)  50 g/L. Colostrum IgG was significantly higher in samples collected during spring, compared to samples collected during winter, and lower in 2nd parity cows. Conclusions: The results indicate that for calves capable of finding the udder and suckling independently, there is no direct benefit of routinely hand feeding colostrum although herd level factors (e.g. feeding, management etc.) may play an important role. FPT prevalence in this study was high, and comparable to that of calves in conventional herds, separating cow and calf at birth. Still, the findings of a high FPT prevalence and inferior colostrum quality indicates a need for improved awareness among dairy producers practicing cow-calf suckling.

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