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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 …