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In cattle, ingestion of sufficient good quality colostrum during the first hours of life is essential for the future health and performance of the calf (Rauprich and others 2000). However, colostrum quality, reflected by its IgG content, can vary widely among individual cows (Gulliksen and others 2008). As the colostrum quality cannot be predicted by its physico-chemical characteristics (Maunsell and others 1999), it is crucial to assess its IgG concentration before administration to the calf. Currently, several methods exist to measure the IgG content of colostrum, both directly and indirectly, but few of them are transposable to farm conditions. The use of a brix refractometer (BR) has been described for the assessment of the colostrum quality in dairy cattle (Bielmann and others 2008, 2010, Chigerwe and others 2008, Morrill and others 2012, Quigley and others 2013). To date, no such studies have been performed in beef cows while colostrum volume and quality differ widely between dairy and beef cows. It is recognised that colostrum produced by beef breeds is frequently of higher quality than dairy breeds colostrum, even if its volume is lower (Guy and others 1994, Lorenz and others 2011). Therefore, the selection and distribution of higher colostrum quality are important to ensure the transfer of a sufficient mass of IgG to the beef calf.
The aim of this study was first to assess the use of a …