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The effect of colostrum period management on BW and immune system in lambs: from birth to weaning

  • L. E. Hernández-Castellano (a1) (a2), A. Suárez-Trujillo (a1), D. Martell-Jaizme (a1), G. Cugno (a1), A. Argüello (a1) and N. Castro (a1)...


The aim of this study was to investigate the BW and immune status of lambs reared under natural conditions or under artificial conditions fed two different colostrum amounts. In this study, 60 lambs were randomly divided into groups according to treatment. Twenty lambs remained with their dams (natural rearing (NR) group). Forty lambs were removed from their dams at birth. Lambs were bottle-fed with a pool of sheep colostrum, receiving either 4 g of IgG/kg of BW at birth (C4 group) or 8 g of IgG/kg of BW at birth (C8 group). The total colostrum amount was equally divided into three meals at 2, 14 and 24 h after birth. After this period, lambs were bottle-fed a commercial milk replacer. Blood plasma sample analysis and BW recordings were carried out before feeding at birth and then at 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 20 days after birth. Another blood sample analysis and BW recording was carried out when animals reached 10 kg of BW. During weaning (30 days), sampling was carried out every 5 days. Blood plasma was used to determine the concentrations of IgG and IgM and the complement system activity – total and alternative pathways. The NR group showed greater BW than the C4 and C8 groups during milk feeding period, whereas the C4 and C8 groups had greater BW than the NR group at the end of weaning period. The C8 and NR groups had greater plasma IgG and IgM concentrations than the C4 group during milk feeding period. In addition, C4 and C8 groups showed similar IgG concentrations and greater IgM concentrations than the NR group at the end of the weaning period. Complement system activity was greater in the NR group than in the C4 and C8 groups during the first 3 days after birth. In conclusion, lambs fed amounts of colostrum equivalent to 8 g of IgG/kg of BW showed similar immune variables compared to lambs reared under natural conditions, obtaining a greater BW at the end of the weaning period. Nevertheless, this study shows that not only the colostrum amount but also the management during the milk feeding and weaning period, such as stress produced by dam separation, milk quality and suckling frequency, can affect the final immune status of lambs.


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