Previous studies with calves and other species have provided evidence that blood serum-derived proteins and fructooligosaccharides (FOS) may benefit intestinal health. We assessed the effects of supplementing products containing serum proteins as a component of arrival fluid support or serum proteins plus FOS (in addition to additional solids, minerals, and vitamins) in an early life dietary supplement on performance, morbidity, and mortality of stressed (transport, cold) male calves. Male Holstein calves (n = 93) <1 wk old were stratified by arrival body weight (BW) and plasma protein concentration, and then randomly assigned to 1 of 4 treatment groups in a 2 × 2 factorial arrangement of one-time administration of fluid support [either control electrolyte solution (E) or the serum protein-containing arrival formula (AF)] and 14 d of either no supplementation (NG) or supplementation with Gammulin (G; APC Inc., Ankeny, IA), which contains serum proteins and FOS in addition to other solids, minerals, and vitamins. Upon arrival at the research facility, calves were orally administered either AF or E. At the next feeding, half of the calves from each fluid support treatment received either milk replacer (20% crude protein, 20% fat) or the same milk replacer supplemented with G (50 g/d during the first 14 d). Starter and water were freely available. Feed offered and refused was recorded daily. Calf health was assessed by daily assignment of fecal and respiratory scores. Stature measures and BW were determined weekly. Blood samples were obtained at d 0 (before treatments), 2, 7, 14, and 28. Calves were weaned at d 42 and remained in the experiment until d 56. After 2 wk of treatments, calves previously fed AF had greater body length (66.6 vs. 66.0 cm), intakes of dry matter (38.7 vs. 23.5 g/d) and crude protein (9.2 vs. 5.6 g/d) from starter, and cortisol concentration in blood (17.0 vs. 13.9 ng/mL) than calves fed E. Supplementation with G resulted in greater BW gain during the first 2 wk, increased intakes of dry matter and CP, and decreased respiratory scores. For the 8-wk experiment, G supplementation resulted in lower mean fecal score (1.6 vs. 1.8) and fewer antibiotic treatments per calf (1.5 vs. 2.5) than NG. Survival was greater in G than in NG calves (98 vs. 84%). Despite the marked reduction in morbidity and mortality, blood indicators of acute-phase response, urea N, and total protein were not affected by AF or G in transported cold-stressed male calves.
- acute phase response
- serum protein