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It is critical that bovine maternal colostrum is fed to newborn calves during their first hours of life. Colostrum is the secretion a cow produces after mammary involution that is rich in various nutrients. In addition to the nutritive value for newborn calves, immunoglobulins are of interest due to their role in developing the naïve immune system of calves at birth. The process by which a calf acquires immunity via absorption of immunoglobulins is defined as passive immunity. When calves consume an adequate amount of immunoglobulins, they are classified as having successful passive immunity (SPI). In contrast, if they are deprived of adequate colostrum, they are considered to have had a failure of transfer of passive immunity (FPI). Transfer of passive immunity is assessed by measuring serum IgG concentrations at 24 to 48 h of age. The major factors that influence whether a calf has SPI or FPI are colostrum IgG concentration, quantity fed, and age of calf at colostrum feeding. Monitoring apparent efficiency of immunoglobulin absorption in calves is often recommended to evaluate overall colostrum management practices. Serum IgG analyses can be determined with direct (radial immunodiffusion) or indirect (refractometry) methods and used to assess SPI or FPI prevalence. The Authors. Published by Elsevier Inc. and Fass Inc. on behalf of the American Dairy Science Association®. This is an open access article under the CC BY license (


A J Lopez, A J Heinrichs. Invited review: The importance of colostrum in the newborn dairy calf. Journal of dairy science. 2022 Apr;105(4):2733-2749

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PMID: 35094859

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