Level of nutrition and age at weaning: effects on humoral immunity in young calves

Br J Nutr. 1994 Feb;71(2):239-48. doi: 10.1079/bjn19940130.


Thirty-two calves were studied to determine the effects of level of nutrition (400 and 1000 g (air-dry matter) milk substitute per d) and age at weaning (5, 9 and 13 weeks) on humoral immune responses measured in serum and bronchoalveolar washings (BAW). All calves were immunized with Keyhole limpet haemocyanin (KLH) at 3 weeks of age, and with horse erythrocytes (HRBC) 1 d after weaning. Feeding the higher level of nutrition compared with the lower level decreased anti-HRBC titres and serum IgG2 and IgA responses to KLH (P < 0.05). Weaning at 5 compared with 9 weeks of age decreased serum anti-HRBC responses (P < 0.05), but weaning age had no effect on anti-KLH responses (P > 0.05). Feeding the higher level of nutrition increased total protein (P < 0.05) and IgG2 concentrations (P < 0.01) in BAW. The results showed that variation in husbandry conditions that is within conventional limits affects humoral immune responses in young, artificially-reared calves.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aging / immunology*
  • Animal Husbandry*
  • Animals
  • Antibodies / analysis
  • Antibody Formation*
  • Cattle / immunology*
  • Erythrocytes / immunology
  • Female
  • Hemocyanins / immunology
  • Horses / immunology
  • Immunoglobulin A / analysis
  • Immunoglobulin G / analysis
  • Male
  • Nutritional Status*
  • Weaning*


  • Antibodies
  • Immunoglobulin A
  • Immunoglobulin G
  • Hemocyanins
  • keyhole-limpet hemocyanin