Calf and dam characteristics and calf transport age affect immunoglobulin titers and hematological parameters of veal calves

Francesca Marcato*, Henry van den Brand, Bas Kemp, Bas Engel, Sabine Schnabel, Christine Jansen, V.P.M.G. Rutten, A.P. Koets, Fleur Hoorweg, Ger de Vries Reilingh, A. Wulansari, Maaike Wolthuis-Fillerup, Kees van Reenen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)


This study aimed to investigate effects of transport age of calves (14 vs. 28 d), and of calf and dam characteristics, on immunoglobulin titers and hematological variables of veal calves. Calves (n = 683) were transported to a veal farm at 14 or 28 d of age. Natural antibodies N-IgG, N-IgM, and N-IgA against phosphorylcholine conjugated to bovine serum albumin (PC-BSA) were measured in serum of the dams 1 wk before calving and in first colostrum. These antibodies were also measured in serum of calves 1 wk after birth, 1 d before transport, and in wk 2 and 10 posttransport at the veal farm. Hematological variables were assessed in calves 1 d before transport and in wk 2 posttransport. One day before transport, titers of N-IgG, N-IgM, N-IgA, and neutrophil counts were higher, and lymphocyte counts were lower in 14-d-old calves compared with 28-d-old calves. In wk 2 at the veal farm, calves transported at 14 d of age had higher N-IgG titers and neutrophil counts, but lower N-IgM and N-IgA titers, and lymphocyte counts than calves transported at 28 d. In wk 1 and 1 d before transport, N-Ig in calves were positively related to N-Ig in colostrum. In wk 2 and 10 at the veal farm, N-IgG in calves was positively related to N-IgG in colostrum. The N-IgG titers in calves at the dairy farm were negatively related to the likelihood of being individually treated with antibiotics or other medicines at the veal farm. Our results suggest that calves transported to the veal farm at 28 d of age showed a more advanced development of their adaptive immunity than calves transported at 14 d of age. Quality of colostrum might have long-term consequences for N-IgG titers and immunity in veal calves.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1432-1451
JournalJournal of Dairy Science
Issue number2
Early online date19 Nov 2021
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2022


  • hematology
  • immunoglobulin
  • robustness
  • transport age
  • veal calf


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