Passive immune transfer, health, pre-weaning performance, and metabolism of dairy calves fed a colostrum supplement associated with medium-quality maternal colostrum

ABSTRACT The objective of this study was to evaluate passive immunity transfer, health, performance, and metabolism of Holstein calves fed colostrum supplement associated with medium-quality colostrum. After birth, calves were blocked according to birth weight and date and distributed into the following treatments: high-quality colostrum (> 50 mg of Ig/mL; n = 15; 150 g kg−1 BW; positive control group); medium-quality colostrum (30-40 mg of Ig/mL; n = 14; 150 g kg−1 BW), and medium-quality colostrum (30-40 mg of Ig/mL; n = 15; 150 g kg−1 BW) + colostrum supplement (15 mL) given with the colostrum. Colostrum was given within the first 12 h of life in two meals by nipple bottle, and colostrum replacer was administered by a blister syringe. Blood samples were taken every 12 h up to 48 h of life for total serum protein (TSP) evaluation. After colostrum feeding, calves were fed 4 L of transition milking, split in two meals for a period of one to four days and received milk replacer thereafter. Calves were individually housed, with free access to water and concentrate and bucket-fed 6 L/d of milk replacer up to the sixth week of life, when they received 4 L/d until weaning, with eight weeks. Colostrum feeding protocol affected the TSP concentration in the first 48 h of life, while the concentrations of albumin, glucose, β-hydroxybutyrate, γ-glutamyl transferase, and alkaline phosphatase were not affected. During the milk-feeding period, the concentrate and total dry matter intake were not affected by the colostrum protocol, but increased as animals aged. Colostrum-feeding protocol did not affect performance or health of calves. Feeding colostrum supplement associated with medium-quality colostrum had no effect on passive immune transfer, performance, nor on the metabolism during the liquid-feeding phase.