Acta Vet. Brno 2014, 83: 151-156

The assessment of colostral immunity in dairy calves based on serum biochemical indicators and their relationships

Soňa Šlosárková1, Petr Fleischer1, Oldřich Pěnkava2, Miloslav Skřivánek1

1University of Veterinary and Pharmaceutical Sciences Brno, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Ruminant and Swine Clinic, Brno, Czech Republic
2University of Veterinary and Pharmaceutical Sciences Brno, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Department of Physiology, Brno, Czech Republic

Passive transfer of immunity in dairy calves is routinely monitored in North America. This study analyzes such type of biochemistry monitoring in 591 calves (Holstein, Fleckvieh) from 19 large farms in the Czech Republic. All calves, aged 1–6 days, were blood sampled once. Serum concentrations of total protein, albumin, zinc sulphate turbidity units and γ-glutamyltransferase activity were analysed by photometry methods. The samples were divided according to concentrations of total protein and zinc sulphate turbidity units, and the age of calves. These groups were compared using nonparametric tests. The samples had good mean values (total protein 63.5 g·l-1, albumin 30.5 g·l-1, zinc sulphate turbidity 11.5 U, γ-glutamyltransferase 10.7 μkat·l-1) but 41% and 54% of calves had low total protein (< 60 g·l-1) and zinc sulphate turbidity (< 12 U), respectively. The calves with low total protein showed markedly worse values in all indicators (P < 0.001). The groups according to zinc sulphate turbidity (thresholds 5, 10, 15 U) demonstrated gradual differences (P < 0.001) in all indicators except albumin. Only γ-glutamyltransferase showed very distinct age-sensitive differences; the highest activity was in 1-day-old calves (18.3 μkat·l-1); calves aged 3–6 days had significantly lower activity. It is newly suggested that samples be taken from calves 1–3 days old for γ-glutamyltransferase analysis and traditionally anytime during the first week of life for all other indicators. This first extensive analysis of passive transfer in Central Europe shows that there are widespread deficiencies in the feeding of colostrum to calves.


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