The objective was to study the effect of dry period length in dairy cows on immunoglobulin content and natural antibodies (NAb) titers in colostrum, growth, and plasma natural and specific antibody titers in plasma of calves. Holstein-Friesian dairy cows (n = 167) were randomly assigned to 3 dry period lengths (0, 30, or 60 d). Colostrum production, concentration of colostrum IgG and IgM, and titers of NAb (isotypes IgG and IgM) binding keyhole limpet hemocyanin (KLH) and human serum albumin (HuSA) in colostrum were measured. Female calves were immunized with both KLH and HuSA at wk 6 and 10 of life. Titers of NAb and specific antibody (SpAb) for isotypes IgG, IgM, and total immunoglobulin (IgT) binding KLH or HuSA were determined in plasma of female calves. Primary and secondary antibody responses to KLH or HuSA from wk 6 and 10 were expressed as the increase in antibody titers to wk 10 and 11 of life after primary and secondary challenges, respectively. Pregnancy length for cows with a 0-d dry period was 3 d shorter compared with cows with a 30- or 60-d dry period. Birth weight of calves from cows with a 0-d dry period was lower compared with calves from cows with a 30-d dry period. Growth of calves until 12 wk of life was not affected by dry period length. Colostrum production and IgG and IgM concentration in colostrum were lower for cows with a 0-d dry period than a 60-d dry period. Natural IgG and IgM titers binding KLH or HuSA were lower in colostrum from cows with a 0-d dry period compared with cows with a 60-d dry period. Natural antibody titers (IgG, IgM, and IgT) binding KLH or HuSA in plasma were lower during the first 2 wk of life for calves from cows with a 0-d dry period compared with calves from cows with a 30- or 60-d dry period. After primary and secondary immunization of calves with KLH and HuSA, SpAb titers of calves were not affected by dry period length. After secondary immunization, the response of IgG and IgT binding KLH was higher in plasma of calves from cows with a 0-d dry period. The results of this study demonstrate that, although omission of the dry period of dairy cows leads to lower plasma NAb titers in calves during the first 2 wk of life, SpAb titers in calves were not affected and even the secondary antibody responses were enhanced compared with calves from cows with a 30- or 60-d dry period.
- bovine somatotropin
- metabolic status