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Effects of a natural herbal extract on colostrum apparent efficiency of absorption and vigor of neonatal dairy calves.

M. E. Reis



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Effects of a natural herbal extract on colostrum apparent efficiency of absorption and vigor of neonatal dairy calves.
M. E. Reis*2,1, M. C. Cantor1, C. M. M. Bittar2, J. H. C. Costa1. 1University of Kentucky Lexington, KY, 2University of S�o Paulo Piracicaba, SP, Brazil.

Calves can experience poor vigor after birth. Therefore, it is of interest to determine if vigor can be improved by providing a natural herbal extract (extract). The study aimed to evaluate the effect of a natural herbal extract on apparent colostrum absorption efficiency and vigor in neonatal dairy calves. Holstein dairy calves (n = 22) were randomly enrolled to receive either a negative control (15 mL of distilled water) or one 15-mL oral dose of extract (CalfPerk, TechMix, Stewart, MN, USA) 3 h after birth. Cows were watched on live camera to determine delivery time, dystocia score and to ensure no colostrum was sucked from the dam. At 1.5 h after birth, a total vigor score was assigned, combining heart rate, oxygenation rate, response to nasal stimuli and suckle reflex. Afterward, calves were removed from maternity pen, weighed, and placed into an individual pen (3 � 3 m). Blood samples were collected at 2.5, 6, 12, 24, 48, and 72 h and additional vigor scores were collected at 2.5 h, 3.75 h, before tube feeding colostrum replacer (Premolac Plus IgG, Zinpro, Chilton, WI) to calves at 4 h after birth. Calves were vigor scored once daily until 4 d of age. Baseline blood BRIX and vigor at 1.5 h before colostrum were not different between treatments; [placebo 7.32 � 0.38% BRIX and extract 7.32 � 0.40% BRIX (mean � sd); P > 0.10]. Total vigor score 15 min before colostrum replacer was not different (P > 0.10) between treatments with a mean for placebo of 4.18 � 1.40 and for extract of 4.18 � 1.47. Linear models evaluated the effect of the extract on BRIX with time as a repeated measure, calf as subject, and birthdate as random effect. A logistic model evaluated the odds of extract improving a calf's vigor score from 1 to 3 d of life (vigor score was categorized as 0—3 poor, 4—5 average, and 6—8 strong). The natural extract was not associated with a change in BRIX (placebo 7.77 � 0.10%, extract 7.72 � 0.10% BRIX; LSM � SEM). Similarly, there was no significant effect of extract on improving vigor likelihood (OR 1.73: 95% CI: 0.66—4.60; P = 0.27). Preliminary results suggest the extract does not affect passive transfer BRIX. Future research in this study will examine the herbal extract's impact on behavior, and vitality in young calves.

Keywords: dystocia, supplement, vitality.