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Colostrum supplementation with omega-3 fatty acids does not alter calf outcome on a commercial farm.

J. Opgenorth



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Colostrum supplementation with omega-3 fatty acids does not alter calf outcome on a commercial farm.
J. Opgenorth*, L. M. Sordillo, M. J. VandeHaar. Michigan State University East Lansing, MI.

Our objective was to supplement colostrum with omega-3 fatty acids (n-3 FA) to provide anti-inflammatory mediators that may improve the immune response of neonatal calves. We hypothesized a colostrum supplement containing 60 mL of a 1:1 ratio fish:flaxseed oil with or without 200 mg α-tocopherol might provide an advantageous start to early life by enhancing health and growth. Calves were blocked by birth order and randomly assigned to 1 of 3 treatments: no supplement added to colostrum (CON); 60 mL 1:1 fish:flaxseed oil blend (FF); 60 mL 1:1 fish:flaxseed oil blend with 200 mg α-tocopherol (FFE). In total, 180 heifer calves (n = 60 per treatment) were enrolled on a commercial farm. Health was scored 3 times per week until weaning. Weight, wither height, and heart girth were measured after birth, 3 wk, and 8 wk of age to assess pre-weaning growth. A subgroup of 54 calves (18 blocks or 18 calves per treatment) were sampled 2 d (�8 h) after birth to evaluate oxidant status, serum total protein, and inflammatory gene and cytokine protein expression in blood after an in vitro LPS challenge as indicators of health and immunity. At 9 wk, calves were transported 18 h to another farm, and medical records were kept as an indicator of disease incidence up to 13 wk of age. Calf mortality was 1.8 percent which is below industry average, and exceptional health was observed throughout the study. Health scores and growth were similar regardless of treatment. Serum total protein indicated successful passive transfer in all calves, and oxidant status index was not affected by treatments on d 2 of age. Concentrations of tumor necrosis factor α (TNF-α) increased with LPS stimulation, but this increase was not altered by treatment. Likewise, leukocyte gene expression of TNF-α, interleukins 8 and 10, and cyclooxygenase-2 increased upon LPS stimulation, but the fold change did not differ with treatment. In conclusion, 60 mL 1:1 ratio fish:flaxseed oil colostrum supplement did not enhance pre-weaning calf performance. Supplementing n-3 FA in a one-time meal may not provide the anti-inflammatory benefits observed with continuous feeding.

Keywords: oxidative stress, inflammation, neonate.