Passive Immunity Status And Long-Term Health And Performance Of Calves

Passive Immunity Status And Long-Term Health And Performance Of Calves

Murray County Extension Educator Ag/4-H Youth Development

Glenn Selk, Oklahoma State University Emeritus Extension Animal Scientist


You have heard the warning: “What happens in Las Vegas, stays in Las Vegas!!!”  Perhaps you have not heard: “What happens in the first 24 hours, impacts the rest of a calf’s life”!  Veterinary scientists, while with the USDA experiment station at Clay Center, Nebraska monitored health events and growth performance in a population of range beef calves in order to identify associations of production factors with baby calf passive immune status.  “Passive immunity” is the receiving of antibodies from the mother’s colostrum.  At this stage of life the only disease-fighting antibodies a baby calf has is via “passive immunity.”

Blood samples were collected at 24 hours after calving from 263 crossbred calves to determine the amount of passive maternal immunity that had been obtained from colostrum.     Colostrum is the first milk produced by a cow upon giving birth.  The baby calves were classified with “Inadequate” or “Adequate” Passive Immune status based on that blood sample at 24 hours of age.  Growth performance and health events in the study population were monitored from birth to weaning, and after weaning throughout the feedlot phase.



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