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Plasma derived colostrum and life expectancy in calves

Clinical Scenario

You are called out to attend to a neonatal Holstein heifer calf with diarrhoea for one of the practice’s biggest and most demanding clients, Farmer Trevett.  After successfully treating the calf with fluid therapy you begin a thorough discussion of the risk factors for neonatal diarrhoea and get on to the subject of colostrum management, emphasising that prompt and adequate colostrum is essential for neonatal calf health.  Farmer Trevett points out that he has a very high Johne’s disease prevalence and so tries to snatch rear heifer calves and feed them frozen colostrum from “clean” cows, however he struggles to store enough.  You suggest using a plasma-derived colostrum product due to its simplicity, Farmer Trevett is very cynical and although you manage to convince him that these products will be Johne’s free and that they may well help with the neonatal diarrhoea he asks whether the heifers will perform as well long term.  Due to his Johne’s disease prevalence he has a high culling rate and wants his heifers to last in the herd and he doesn’t believe that plasma-derived colostrum can possibly give them the start in life they need to remain in the herd for as long as he’d like.  You sigh as you get in to your car, remembering that nothing at Farmer Trevett’s is ever straightforward and you wonder if using plasma-derived colostrum would have a negative impact on the herd...

3-Part Question (PICO)

In [calves] does [giving plasma derived colostrum compared to maternally derived colostrum at birth] [decrease life expectancy]?

Search Strategy and Summary of Evidence

Search Strategy

MEDLINE(R) In-Process & Other Non-Indexed Citations and MEDLINE(R) 1946 to Present using the OVID interface

(calf.mp. OR calves.mp. OR cattle.mp. OR bos.mp. OR bovine.mp. OR bovines.mp. OR exp Cattle/)

AND

(plasma derived colostrum$.mp. OR colostrum replacement$.mp. OR colostrum replacer$.mp. OR colostrum substitute$.mp.)

CAB Abstracts 1910 to Present using the OVID interface

(calf.mp. OR calves.mp. OR bovine$.mp. OR bos.mp. OR cattle.mp. OR exp calves/ OR exp Bovidae/ OR exp Bos/)

AND

(plasma derived colostrum$.mp. OR colostrum replacement$.mp. OR colostrum replacer$.mp. OR colostrum substitute$.mp.)

Search Outcome

MEDLINE

  • 58 papers found in MEDLINE search
  • 55 papers excluded as they don't meet the PICO question
  • 0 papers excluded as they are in a foreign language
  • 0 papers excluded as they are review articles/in vitro research/conference proceedings
  • 3 total relevant papers from MEDLINE

CAB Abstracts

  • 98 papers found in CAB search
  • 93 papers excluded as they don't meet the PICO question
  • 0 papers excluded as they are in a foreign language
  • 2 papers excluded as they are review articles/in vitro research/conference proceedings
  • 3 total relevant papers from CAB

Total relevant papers

3 relevant papers from both MEDLINE and CAB Abstracts

Comments

Only two of the three ‘useable’ papers are included in the summary of evidence, as the papers by Pithua et al. and Swan et al. appeared to include the same cohort of calves. The most recent of these two papers (Pithua et al.) has been included in the BET.

Summary of Evidence

Priestley et al. (2013) USA

Title:

Effect of feeding maternal colostrum or plasma-derived or colostrum-derived colostrum replacer on passive transfer of immunity, health, and performance of preweaning heifer calves.

Patient group:

Holstein heifer calves from birth to weaning (N=150)

Study Type:

Randomised controlled trial

Outcomes:
  • Death loss
  • Birth weight
  • Weight gain
  • Weaning weight
  • Serum total protein
  • Immunoglobulin G levels
  • Disease incidence

 

Key Results:
  • There was no significant difference in mortality between maternally derived colostrum and plasma derived colostrum groups (p>/=0.22)
  • Serum total protein (p<0.001) and serum IgG (p<0.0001) was significantly higher in maternally derived colostrum group compared to plasma-derived colostrum group
  • Weaning weights were significantly greater in maternally derived colostrum group (p=0.002) than plasma derived group
  • Weight gain from birth to weaning were significantly greater in maternally derived colostrum group (p=0.002) than plasma derived group
  • Morbidity was significantly lower in maternally derived colostrum group (p
Study Weaknesses:
  • A sample size calculation was undertaken and 50 calves in each group were needed but only 49 per group were used in analysis. Due to losses during the study, the number of calves used in the analysis for weight gain by weaning was even further reduced
Attachment:
No attachments.

Pithua et al. (2010) USA

Title:

Effect of a plasma-derived colostrum replacement feeding program on adult performance and longevity in Holstein cows.

Patient group:

Heifer calves from birth to 54 months of age (approximately), N=497

Study Type:

Controlled clinical trial

Outcomes:
  • Death, culling and combined death/culling for any reason from birth to 54 months and from first calving to 54 months
  • Breeding performance indices: Age at first calving, birth to first calving interval, number of inseminations per conception, calving to conception interval
  • Milk yield indices: milk yield in first and second lactation, life time milk yield and length of lactations

Key Results:
  • There was no significant difference between groups in the number of calves that died (p=0.35), were culled (p= 0.59) or died or were culled (p=0.78) from birth up to 54 months of age. The hazard ratio comparing combined death and culling events between colostrum replacer and maternally derived colostrum was 1.1 (p=0.61)
  • There was no significant difference between groups in the number of calves that died (p=0.60), were culled (p= 0.94) or died or were culled (p=0.71) from  first calving up to 54 months of age.
    The hazard ratio comparing death events between colostrum replacer and maternally derived colostrum was 1.22 (p=0.46)
  • There was no observed difference between groups in the length of time to combined death or culling
  • Feeding colostrum replacer compared to maternally derived colostrum had no effect on any of the breeding performance outcomes: age at first calving (p=0.34), number of inseminations per conception (1st calving, P=0.83, 2nd calving p=0.32), calving to conception interval (1st calving, P=0.70, 2nd calving p=0.21)
  • Feeding colostrum replacer compared to maternally derived colostrum had no effect on milk yield in the second lactation (p=0.18) or on total milk yield (p=0.50), but did significantly decrease milk yield in the first lactation (p=0.02)
Study Weaknesses:
  • A sample size/power calculation was not undertaken
  • Calves were not randomised to treatment groups—a systematic allocation procedure was used
  • Groups were not of even size: 261 calves received maternal colostrum and 236 received colostrum replacer. This was due to lack of adherence to allocation procedure at the beginning of the trial
  • It is not clear if outcomes were assessed blind
Attachment:
No attachments.

Comments

The calf feeding protocol was slightly different between farms in terms of number of feedings, volume given at each feeding and method of administrations (bottle vs. oesophageal feeding tube) at each feeding, both between and within the studies. However, overall each calf received the same amount of maternally derived or plasma derived colostrum within the correct time frame, so this is unlikely to have affected the results.
The two studies measured different survival outcomes. Pithua et al. recorded data up to 54 months of age, and Priestley et al. only recorded data until weaning. This means it is hard to directly compare the findings of the studies.

Bottom line

Feeding plasma derived colostrum replacer rather than maternally derived colostrum appears to have no detrimental effect on survival of calves to weaning or 54 months.

Disclaimer

The BETs on this website are a summary of the evidence found on a topic and are not clinical guidelines. It is the responsibility of the individual veterinary surgeon to ensure appropriate decisions are made based on the specific circumstances of patients under their care, taking into account other factors such as local licensing regulations. Read small print

References

Pithua P, Godden SM, Fetrow J, Wells SJ (2010) Effect of a plasma-derived colostrum replacement feeding program on adult performance and longevity in Holstein cows. Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 236: 1230-1237.

Priestley D, Bittar JH, Ibarbia L, Risco CA, Galvão KN (2013). Effect of feeding maternal colostrum or plasma-derived or colostrum-derived colostrum replacer on passive transfer of immunity, health, and performance of preweaning heifer calves. Journal of Dairy Science 96: 3247-3256.

About this BET

First author:
Rachel Dean
Second author:
Kathryn Wareham
Institution:

CEVM, University of Nottingham

Search last performed:
2018-01-22 13:12:49
Original publication date:
2013-09-13 13:12:49
Last updated:
2018-01-22 13:12:49
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