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Maximising the absorption of colostral immunoglobulins in the newborn dairy calf
  1. L Petrie


Various systems of early post natal management of the newborn calf were examined to determine which would consistently achieve high serum concentrations of maternally derived immunoglobulins, and to examine the factors which might influence this transfer. Early assisted sucking of colostrum to satiation produced consistently high serum concentrations of absorbed immunoglobulins with a mean of 27.17 +/- 8.92 zinc sulphate turbidity (ZST) units for 100 calves. No significant increase in the serum concentrations of absorbed immunoglobulins occurred when calves, which had been assisted to suck immediately after birth, were permitted to remain with their dams and encouraged to suck again at 12 hours (29.20 +/- 9.40 ZST units). Despite early assisted sucking, a small proportion of calves may remain hypogammaglobulinaemic because of the low concentration of immunoglobulins in their dams' colostrum; leakage of colostrum from the udder before calving was the major cause of these low immunoglobulin concentrations. A highly significant correlation was demonstrated between the colostral immunoglobulin concentrations and the passively acquired serum immunoglobulin concentrations of the calves. With this intensive system of early assisted sucking the breed of the calf did not significantly influence the absorption of colostral immunoglobulins.

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