Acta Vet. Brno 2007, 76: 45-53

Metabolic Disorders in Dairy Calves in Postpartum Period

A. Podhorský, A. Pechová, R. Dvořák, L. Pavlata

Clinic of Diseases of Ruminants, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, University of Veterinary and Pharmaceutical Sciences Brno, Czech Republic

Received September 22, 2005
Accepted July 9, 2007

The aim of this study was, in terms of analysis of causes of disorders in calves on dairy farms, to evaluate occurrence of metabolic disorders in their postnatal period. In 23 agricultural farms (14 farms with the incidence of clinical forms of disease in calves during milk nutrition period - group D; 9 farms with no clinical disease - group H) clinical examination was performed, blood samples were collected and data concerning the provision of permanent day and night care for calves (PDC) during delivery and in early postpartum period were collected. The samples were taken from 3 - 5 calves in every farm (totally 97, H - 38, D - 59). Biochemical indicators that have some relations to the quality of colostral nutrition were determined (the concentrations of immunoglobulins - Ig, total protein - TP, albumin - A, globulins - G, vitamin E and A, the activity of gammaglutamyl transferase - GMT) and to the microelement metabolism (the activities of glutathione peroxidase - GSH-Px for evaluation of selenium (Se) status, the concentrations of copper (Cu) and zinc (Zn)). While evaluating the entire group of examined calves, we found a high occurrence of metabolic disorders in calves connected with colostral nutrition and also high occurrence of microelement deficiencies. The decrease in TP was diagnosed in 80%, the decrease in G in 78%, the decrease in concentration of Ig in 78% and 74% of calves had higher A/G ratio. Insufficient intake of colostrum showed also lower activities of GMT in 76% of calves. Hypovitaminosis E was diagnosed in 67% of calves and hypovitaminosis A in 19% of calves. Microelement deficiencies were found in 77% (Cu), 39% (Se), and 10% (Zn) of calves. While comparing the results for calves in groups H and D, in the group of calves from farms with no clinical disease (H) a significantly higher (p < 0.01) concentrations of albumin and vitamin E, as well as vitamin A (p < 0.05) were established. When comparing the farms with provided daylong care (PdC+) and with no daylong care (PdC-), in PdC+ farms calves had a significantly higher (p < 0.01) concentration of TP and G, GSH-Px activity, and also a significantly lower (p < 0.01) A/G ratio, which proves a higher-quality colostral nutrition. The results thus prove that the incidence of metabolic disorders in dairy calves in the Czech Republic represents a highly actual problem and that one of the significant factors that influence this condition is the insufficient care for and the related insufficient colostral nutrition of the calves.