Comparison of immunoglobulin G concentrations in colostrum and newborn calf serum from animals of different breeds, parity and gender

  • Sandro Cavirani Department of Veterinary Science
  • Corrado Gambetti
  • Emiliana Schiano
  • Eleonora Casaletti
  • Costanza Spadini
  • Nicolò Mezzasalma
  • Clotilde Silvia Cabassi
  • Simone Taddei
Keywords: bovine; colostrum; failure of passive transfer


Bovine neonatal enteritis is a major cause of losses in cattle production, involving microbial and extra-microbial causative factors. Failure of passive transfer (FPT) plays a critical role in the development of this disease, and colostrum management and quality have a direct impact on FPT. The aim of this study was to investigate the effects of breed, parity and calf gender on colostrum IgG content and newborn calf immunity. Understanding the influence of these factors could be useful in implementing effective strategies to improve calf health. Breed emerged as a major factor affecting colostrum quality and calf immunity. IgG levels were compared in colostrum and newborn calf serum across dairy (Italian Friesian, Reggiana and Bianca Modenese) and cow-calf type (Piemontese and Limousine) breeds. Italian Friesian cattle showed significantly lower IgG levels in both their colostrum and newborn calf serum compared to the other breeds. Parity did not significantly affect overall colostrum quality or FPT prevalence. However, first-calf heifers had a lower prevalence of inadequate colostrum compared to multiparous cows, suggesting their colostrum is suitable for colostrum banks. With regard to gender, the analysis of IgG levels and FPT prevalence in Italian Friesian newborn calves revealed a significant sex disparity. Females exhibited higher IgG levels and lower FPT prevalence compared to males, suggesting potential management practices influencing these outcomes. In conclusion, results revealed significant differences in IgG concentration between colostrum and newborn calf serum samples across breed, parity, and calf gender. Newborn calves are particularly vulnerable and prone to enteritis. Poor colostrum management and breeding practices that prioritize high milk production can lead to lower IgG levels, further compromising calf immunity. While colostrum banks and cow vaccination offer potential solutions, limitations exist. Moreover, effective control requires close cooperation between farmers and veterinarians, which is often lacking.

Original Articles