Bovine Plasma for Failure of Passive Transfer (FPT) in newborn calves

High IgG Bovine Plasma for Failure of Passive Transfer (FPT) in newborn calves

Thomas J. Divers- BS (Da.Sci.), DVM, ACVIM, ACVECC

Failure of passive transfer (FPT) of immunoglobulin in newborn calves is known to increase disease morbidity and mortality. Recent publications and previous NAMS studies suggest that 20- 25% of calves may suffer from FPT. The preferred method of correcting IgG deficiency (FPT) in calves is a plasma transfusion. A whole blood transfusion can be used but the red blood cells are not needed by most calves and the IgG content per liter of whole blood would be considerably less than a liter of high immunoglobulin plasma. Additionally, any adverse reaction to red or white blood cells would be eliminated by using plasma. A high immunoglobulin, bovine plasma product, is now available and is a recommended as treatment for failure of passive transfer in calves. The plasma should be administered intravenously after placing a 14 or 16 gauge catheter in the jugular vein. A 3 ½ inch catheter is easy to place and can be maintained with a single suture or with cyanoacrylate adhesives. Once the catheter is in place, one liter of plasma can be administered through an administration set over 30 minutes by gravity or by squeezing the bag. Air should not be pumped into the bag to speed the administration. A blood administration set is preferred although a solution administration set can be used; both are relatively inexpensive. Generally, one liter of high quality plasma is administered to 50 Kg calves with FPT. In valuable calves a second liter might be recommended but, if administered, the second liter should be administered more slowly. In addition to plasma administration for treatment of FPT, adding a small amount (10%) of high quality, pathogen free colostrum to the milk or milk replacer during the first few days of life may provide important mucosal IgA antibody protection and be complimentary to the IgG provided by the plasma transfusion.