Bovine colostrum supplementation optimises earnings, performance and recovery in racing thoroughbreds

C. K. Fenger, T. Tobin, P. J. Casey, E. A. Roualdes, J. L. Langemeier, D. M. Haines

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Bovine colostrum (BC) is the first milk produced by cows after calving and contains numerous beneficial substances for the immunity and development of the newborn calf. Because of the growth and immune factors in BC, it has become an attractive supplement for use by athletes to support immunity and health during athletic performance. In order to evaluate the effects of oral BC supplementation on equine athletes, this study evaluated the earnings, performance, recovery and incidence of upper respiratory infections (URTI) in racing horses. The study design was a randomized cross-over racing performance study. 21 horses in race training were randomly assigned to train and compete with or without BC supplementation. After each horse competed in three races, it was crossed over to the other group, allowed a three week washout period, and then competed in three additional races. Horses in public training stables of 3 participating trainers were used. Race performance as determined by earnings, Bloodstock Research Information System (BRIS) speed figures, recovery as determined by number of days between races and incidence of upper respiratory tract disease was recorded. 11 horses completed the study. There was no effect of the order of BC supplementation on the measured variables. Horses on BC supplementation earned $ 2,088 more purse money per race, than when unsupplemented (P=0.016), and ran an average of 5 BRIS speed points higher (P=0.03). Horses returned to racing on average 7.5 days faster (16.9 days vs 24.4 days, P=0.048). There were no URTI among the horses on BC supplementation and two infections while not on BC supplementation (z-test, P=0.11). Statistical analysis showed that horses recovered more quickly, earned three times more money and raced better as judged by BRIS scores while competing with BC supplementation. BC supplemented horses also experienced fewer URTI, although this effect was not significant.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)233-238
Number of pages6
JournalComparative Exercise Physiology
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2014

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2014 Wageningen Academic Publishers.


  • Bovine colostrum
  • Brisnet speed figures
  • Horse
  • Performance
  • Upper respiratory tract infections

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics
  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Biochemistry
  • Physiology
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • Veterinary (miscellaneous)
  • Physiology (medical)


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