Nutritional modulation of immunity and physiological responses in beef calves



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Texas A&M University


Twenty-four crossbred steer calves (235 + 6 kg initial BW) were weaned, adapted to a growing diet, trained to use Calan feeders and assigned to one of four treatments in a 2 x 2 factorial arrangement as follows: (1) no transit stress and saline injection, (2) no transit stress and trace mineral and vitamin E (TM/VitE) injections, (3) transit stress and saline injection and (4) transit stress and TM/VitE injection. TM/VitE injections consisted of MultiminTM to provide 0.3, 0.6, 0.15 and 0.6 mg of Cu, Mn, Se, and Zn/kg BW, respectively, and Vita ETM to provide 9 IU of VitE/kg BW on d 0 and 21 of the study. On d 24, transit-stressed steers were subjected to a three-d, 2000-km, transportation period. During the 56-d experiment, liver and serum samples were assayed to assess trace mineral status, antibody titers to keyhole limpet hemocyanin (KLH) measured to assess humoral immunity and phytohemagglutinin(PHA)- and ovalbumin(OVA)-induced skin swelling and lymphocyte proliferation measured to assess cellular immunity. TM/VitE-injected steers grew slower (P < 0.05) over the first 24 d of the experiment and tended (P = 0.10) to grow slower after transit. TM/VitE injections increased (P < 0.05) liver Cu and Zn concentrations 135 and 21 % by d 30, respectively. TM/VitE-injected steers had increased (P < 0.05) serum Cu on d 24 and 26, but decreased (P < 0.05) serum Zn and whole blood Se compared to saline-injected steers on d 24 and 56. TM/VitE injections increased serum α-tocopherol concentrations. TM/VitE injections did not affect humoral immunity, but decreased (P < 0.05) skin-swelling responses to PHA on d 21, and decreased (P < 0.05) lymphocyte proliferation to OVA and KLH. Transit-stressed steers had higher (P < 0.05) serum Cu on d 26, and higher (P < 0.05) liver Cu concentrations on d 56 than non-transit-stressed steers. Transit stress did not affect serum Zn or whole blood Se concentrations. Injections of TM/VitE increased Cu, Zn and vitamin E, but not Se status. The TM/VitE treatment suppressed growth and cellular immune function suggesting that levels of trace minerals used in this study were too high.