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Use of plasma samples to assess passive transfer in calves using refractometry: comparison with serum and clinical cut-off point
  1. J. A. MacFarlane, BVSc DBR MRCVS1,
  2. D. H. Grove-White, BVSc MSc DLSHTM DBR PhD DipECBHM FRCVS2,
  3. M. D. Royal, BSc PhD2 and
  4. R. F. Smith, BVSc BSc PhD DipECBHM MRCVS2
  1. 1School of Veterinary Sciences, University of Bristol, Langford, Bristol, Somerset BS40 5DU, UK
  2. 2School of Veterinary Science, University of Liverpool, Leahurst Campus, Neston, Cheshire CH64 7TE, UK
  1. E-mail for correspondence: julie.macfarlane{at}

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Complete or partial failure of passive transfer (FPT) of immunoglobulins in the neonatal calf can result in an increased susceptibility to disease, a higher risk of mortality and decreased growth rates (Robison and others 1988, Tyler and others 1998, Tyler and others 1999, Waldner and others 2009, Furman-Fratczat and others 2011). It is therefore critical to the survival and successful rearing of a calf that adequate passive transfer is achieved. Determining the amount of immunoglobulins a neonatal calf has received is a useful measure for veterinary surgeons and farmers to allow monitoring and standard setting for calf health and husbandry.

Immunoglobulins may be measured directly by means of a radial immunodiffusion assay (Mancini and others 1965), and although this test is the industry gold standard, it is laboratory based, requiring a minimum of 24 hours to be performed and, thus, is not applicable to routine on-farm monitoring of adequacy of passive transfer. Measuring serum total proteins by hand-held refractometry offers a convenient, simple, rapid and inexpensive on-farm tool by which farmers and veterinary …

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