AABP Executive Director Dr. Fred Gingrich is joined by Dr. Elizabeth Homerosky to discuss her research project on identifying calves at risk for not consuming colostrum within 4 hours of birth with the development of the Beef Calf Vigor Assessment (BCVA). Homerosky is the 2021 recipient of the AABP James A. Jarrett Award for Young Leaders and a partner at Veterinary Agri-Health Services in Alberta. Find out about their practice and student opportunities at this link. Homerosky discusses the challenges of identifying calves at risk in beef production systems, especially cattle on open range. A study from Waldner and Rosengren of the University of Saskatchewan, suggests that for optimal passive transfer, calves need 24 g/L of serum IgG and approximately 1/3 of beef calves do not achieve this optimal level of IgG. It can be difficult to assess passive transfer in beef calves versus dairy calves due to the differences in management systems. Homerosky explains that concentration of immunoglobulins in beef cattle is not considered a major risk factor, however, timing of colostrum consumption is critical for passive transfer in beef calves since we rely on the maternal-neonatal bond to allow for nursing within 4-hours. The BCVA is a practical and producer friendly tool that clients can use to identify at-risk calves. The APGAR scoring system used in human neonates has not been found to have a high association with outcomes of interest. In her study, Homerosky identified that the suckle reflex was highly associated with disturbances in blood gas abnormalities and failure of passive transfer. Adding calving ease into the algorithm and applying the BCVA to all calvings will improve the ability to identify at-risk calves. Veterinarians are encouraged to work with their beef producers to identify at-risk calves using the BCVA and providing protocols for interventions when indicated.
Homerosky, E. R., et al. "Clinical indicators of blood gas disturbances, elevated L-lactate concentration and other abnormal blood parameters in newborn beef calves." The Veterinary Journal 219 (2017): 49-57.
Homerosky, E. R., et al. "Predictors and impacts of colostrum consumption by 4 h after birth in newborn beef calves." The Veterinary Journal 228 (2017):1-6.
Waldner, C.L. and Rosengren, L.B., “Factors associated with serum immunoglobulin levels in beef calves from Alberta and Saskatchewan and association between passive transfer and health outcomes.” Canadian Journal of Veterinary Research 2009; 50:275-281