Identification of biomarkers measured upon arrival associated with morbidity, mortality, and average daily gain in grain-fed veal calves

H. M. Goetz, D. F. Kelton, J. H.C. Costa, C. B. Winder, D. L. Renaud

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations

Abstract

There is a strong need for management strategies that help reduce the incidence of disease and subsequent antimicrobial use in the veal industry. Biomarkers could serve as useful tools that allow producers to take preventative measures before clinical problems occur. The objective of this prospective cohort study was to identify biomarkers measured upon arrival associated with morbidity, mortality, and average daily gain (ADG) in grain-fed veal calves. Upon arrival at a grain-fed veal facility in Ontario, Canada, calves were weighed and health-scored using a standardized health-scoring system. Several metabolites were measured including creatine kinase (CK), cholesterol, haptoglobin, manganese, serum total protein, iron, cobalt, zinc, selenium, molybdenum, and IgG. Farm personnel treated calves according to their farm protocol and weighed them at 78 d after arrival. Performance, treatment, and mortality records from the facility were used for analysis. Multivariable Cox proportional hazard models were created to evaluate metabolic biomarkers associated with morbidity and mortality. A mixed linear regression model was created to determine biomarkers associated with ADG. A total of 992 male dairy calves were evaluated at arrival from January to December 2017. Of the calves evaluated, 74 calves (7.5%) died and 877 (88.4%) were treated for illness over the 11-wk period under observation. Higher levels of haptoglobin and molybdenum were associated with a greater hazard of morbidity, whereas higher weight upon arrival and higher levels of both CK and IgG were associated with a reduced hazard of morbidity. For mortality, higher weight upon arrival and higher levels of cholesterol and IgG were associated with a lower hazard of mortality occurring over the 78-d period of observation. Higher weight, cholesterol, copper, CK, iron, and IgG were associated with increased ADG, whereas increased zinc and haptoglobin were negatively associated with ADG. These results demonstrate that certain biomarkers could be used to identify high-risk calves when measured upon arrival at a veal facility. Future research should focus on determining the utility of these biomarkers to selectively target intervention strategies to improve ADG and reduce morbidity and mortality.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)874-885
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Dairy Science
Volume104
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 American Dairy Science Association

Keywords

  • antimicrobial use
  • health status
  • male dairy calf
  • veal industry

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Food Science
  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Genetics

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