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Field Study to Analyze 15% Body Weight Colostrum Feeding

Conducted November 2015 by Mei Lin, MV/MVs, Botero, J. MV , and Dumm, R. DVM.

Heat-Treated Colostrum fed at 15% Body Weight and Added Selenium and/or Zeolite on Total Immunoglobulin Absorption in Newborn Calves.

About Our Study: This study was designed to test our recommended protocols at Dairy Tech, Inc. as well as to assess whether Selenium or Zeolite might improve the absorption of immunoglobulin in newborn calves. Previous data about these two products came from small studies and showed conflicting results. If an inexpensive product could help in absorption, then the Perfect Udder® bag would be the ideal delivery system for it.

In this study of 200 calves, we had enough animals to see even small differences. Our study documented the levels of immunoglobulin absorption that could be achieved just by following our latest dosing recommendations of 15% body weight colostrum fed in two feedings 10 hours apart.

  • First Feeding: Calves were fed 10% of their body weight using heat-treated colostrum within the first hour of birth.

  • Second Feeding: Calves were fed 5% of their body weight using heat-treated colostrum administered 10 Hours after First Feeding.

Calves were tube-fed each dose of colostrum. Only one tube was used per calf and it was cleaned between the two feedings. Colostrum was then heat-treated in the Dairy Tech CombiPasteurizer 30G and stored frozen in Perfect Udder® bags. Product was then warmed to a feeding temperature using a Dairy Tech Bag Warmer.


“Amazingly, we found that the average serum IgG level across the entire study was 27.4g/L.”


What Was Measured?

  1. Birthweight of Calves

  2. IgG levels of ALL Colostrum (Via BRIX)

  • As a Batch

  • In the Bag Prior to First Feeding

  • Again In the Bag before Second Feeding

  1. SerumIgG levels of ALL Calves

  • At 48 hours we took blood samples to check serum IgG levels.

  1. Selenium Levels in Random Calves - to have a feel for herd levels

Results: There were no significant differences between the groups receiving Selenium, Zeolite or Selenium + Zeolite compared to the control group with no additives.

  1. Selenium was not deficient in this herd - Had this been the case, then maybe it would have made a difference. Further investigation may be warranted.

  2. Amazingly, we found that the average serum IgG level across the entire study was 27.4g/L.

  • Consider that Failure of Passive Transfer (FPT) occurs at <10g/L and current recommendations are to be above this number with a new industry goal of 20g/L.

  • With the second feeding of heat treated colostrum given at the proper time, we have achieved an IgG level beyond expectation.

Other interesting findings in this study:

  1. If the second feeding was too soon (4-6 hours), there was an increased risk of bloating.

  2. By dividing the feedings 2:1, we also noticed that the calves seemed more comfortable than in the past when we would give 3-4 quarts in one feeding.

  3. From a practical standpoint, the calf will require a second feeding long before there is complete gut closure. Therefore, it makes sense that we also remove pathogens from this feeding.

  4. Small calves benefit greatly from lubrication of the tube before insertion.

Sources for Bar Graph

  1. J. L. Johnson, S. M. Godden,1 T. Molitor, T. Ames, and D. Hagman. 2007. Effects of Feeding Heat-Treated Colostrum on Passive Transfer of Immune and Nutritional Parameters in Neonatal Dairy Calves. J. Dairy Sci. 90:5189–5198
  2. Weina Shi. 2014. Influence of Colostrum Feeding Programs on Passive Immunity, Growth Performance and Serum Biochemical Parameters in Holstein Dairy Calves (Thesis). China Agricultural University.

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