Evaluation of the effects of colostrum replacer supplementation of the milk replacer ration on the occurrence of disease, antibiotic therapy, and performance of pre-weaned dairy calves
ABSTRACT The objective of this study was to evaluate the effects of colostrum supplementation of the milk replacer ration on disease occurrence, antibiotic therapy, and performance of pre-weaned dairy calves with adequate transfer of passive immunity. Two hundred and two 1-d-old Holstein dairy calves were assigned to 1 of 2 groups after arrival to a dairy calf rearing facility. Calves assigned to the control group (n = 100) received milk replacer (28% crude protein and 20% crude fat) without colostrum inclusion twice daily. Calves assigned to the treatment group (n = 102) received 150 g of supplemental colostrum replacer powder added to their milk replacer twice daily for the first 14 d of life. Before group assignment, serum samples were collected from all calves to confirm transfer of passive immunity. Calves were evaluated daily until weaning (56 d of life) for signs of clinical disease as well as any treatment with antibiotics. Presentation of clinical disease and antibiotic treatment was recorded daily by personnel blinded to treatment allocation. Adequate transfer of passive immunity was confirmed in all calves at the start of the study and mean serum IgG values were similar among calves from treatment and control groups. The odds ratios of having abnormal feces and abnormal respiration during the pre-weaning period for calves from the treatment group were 0.15 and 0.46 the odds ratios of calves from the control group, respectively. The odds ratios of receiving antibiotic therapy during the pre-weaning period for calves from the treatment group were 0.09 the odds ratios of calves from the control group. Mean body weight and average daily gain at weaning were not significantly different among calves from the treatment and control groups. Colostrum replacer supplementation of the milk replacer ration was effective in reducing antibiotic therapy and occurrence of disease during the pre-weaning period.
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