Validation of Brix refractometer to estimate colostrum immunoglobulin G content and composition in the sow

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Colostrum is an essential source of immunoglobulin G (IgG) for neonate piglets. However, colostrum IgG content and nutritional composition can vary considerably among sows due to age, parity, feeding regime and immunological background. Currently, there is no practical way to obtain information about colostrum IgG concentration at herd level. We evaluated sows' colostrum IgG content on-farm using a Brix refractometer and its performance was compared with that of an IgG ELISA. In addition, nutritional compositions of the colostrum samples were analyzed using Fourier transform IR spectroscopy. Colostrum samples (5 to 6 ml) (n=153) were obtained within 0 to 3 h of farrowing. However, to obtain a 24 h IgG profile for 11 sows, colostrum samples were collected at 0, 2, 4, 6, 8, 10, 16 and 24 h after farrowing. A 0.3 ml of freshly drawn colostrum sample was used for the on-farm measurement of Brix percentages using a digital refractometer shortly after collection. The remaining fractions of the samples were frozen and submitted to laboratory analysis for total IgG, using a commercially available pig IgG ELISA kit. For nutritional composition analysis, a 35 ml colostrum sample (n=34) was obtained immediately after birth of first piglet from the first three pairs of frontal teats. Colostrum concentrations of IgG averaged 52.03 +/- 30.70 mg/ml (mean +/- SEM) at 0 to 3 h after farrowing. Concentration of IgG decreased on average by 50% during the 1st day of lactation (P30%. Colostrum IgG concentration is highly variable among sows, Brix measurement of a sows' fresh colostrum is an inexpensive, rapid and satisfactorily accurate method of estimating IgG concentration, providing indication of differentiation between good and poor IgG content of colostrum.
Original languageEnglish
Issue number10
Pages (from-to)1728-1733
Number of pages6
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2016
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

Fields of Science

  • 413 Veterinary science
  • colostrum
  • sow
  • piglet
  • Brix refractometer
  • immunoglobulin G

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