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Effects of colostrum management practices on the neonatal dairy calf Open Access


Other title
dairy calf
intestinal bacteria
passive transfer
Type of item
Degree grantor
University of Alberta
Author or creator
Fischer, Amanda J
Supervisor and department
Steele, Michael (Agricultural, Food and Nutritional Science)
Examining committee member and department
Ambrose, Divakar (Agricultural, Food and Nutritional Science)
Guan, Le Luo (Agricultural, Food and Nutritional Science)
Department of Agricultural, Food, and Nutritional Science
Animal Science
Date accepted
Graduation date
2017-11:Fall 2017
Master of Science
Degree level
The timely feeding of an adequate volume of high quality colostrum immediately after birth is one of the key factors influencing the health and survival of the neonatal dairy calf. Therefore, the aim of this thesis was to investigate the effect of current colostrum management practices on the passive transfer of IgG, intestinal bacterial colonization, and the presence of bovine colostrum oligosaccharides (bCOs) in the gastrointestinal tract (GIT) of neonatal calves. In order to assess the effect of delaying the first colostrum meal, in chapter 2 calves were fed pooled, pasteurized colostrum at either 0 h, 6 h, or 12 h of life. Results indicated that feeding colostrum at 6 h and 12 h decreased the passive transfer of IgG when compared to calves fed at 0 h. Yet, no differences were observed in passive transfer between 6 h and 12 h calves, indicating that between 1-6 h of life the absorptive capacity of the intestine may decrease, thus leading to similar IgG concentrations in these groups. In addition, at 51 h of life, 12 h calves tended to have a lower prevalence of bacterial groups in the colon, specifically Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus, suggesting that delaying the delivery of colostral nutrients may impact early life microbial colonization. In chapter 3, the effect of heat-treatment of colostrum on the concentration of oligosaccharides in bovine colostrum and in the intestine of neonatal calves was assessed. Results revealed that heat-treatment at 60°C for 60 min increased the concentration of free bCOs when compared to unheated colostrum. It is hypothesized that this may be due to the cleavage of bCOs from proteins and lipids in colostrum during heat-treatment. In contrast, calves fed heat-treated colostrum displayed a lower concentration of bCOs in the small and large intestine at 6 h of life compared to calves fed unheated colostrum. This result may be due to the metabolism of bCOs as a carbon source for beneficial intestinal bacteria, however further research is needed. The results of this thesis have a significant impact on the dairy industry as it demonstrates that delaying the first feeding of colostrum – even by increments of 6 h – can have a large influence on the neonatal calf. Moreover, it emphasizes potential prebiotic compounds that may be used to improve gastrointestinal health during the early life of the dairy calf.
This thesis is made available by the University of Alberta Libraries with permission of the copyright owner solely for the purpose of private, scholarly or scientific research. This thesis, or any portion thereof, may not otherwise be copied or reproduced without the written consent of the copyright owner, except to the extent permitted by Canadian copyright law.
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