Study: Colostrum replacer cuts Johne’s disease risk

An extended study tracking 497 cows on 12 commercial dairy farms proves plasma-based commercial colostrum replacer like Acquire™ can prevent transmission of Johne’s disease. 

Calves fed plasma-derived colostrum replacer had 44% less risk of being infected with the bacterium that causes Johne’s disease, according to University of Minnesota research to be published this spring. 

The study, designed by doctoral dissertation fellow Patrick Pithua of the U of M College of Veterinary Medicine, also implicated raw maternal colostrum feeding programs as a source of infection with the Johne’s disease pathogen. 

More than 68% of U.S. dairy operations were reported to be infected with this organism in 2007, according to a National Animal Health Monitoring Systems study. Johne’s disease also ranks among the most economically important diseases of cattle by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Significant in its use of multiyear field data, the U of M study demonstrated plasma colostrum replacement technology, such as APC’s Acquire colostrum replacer, was an effective management tool in herds attempting to reduce the prevalence of Johne’s disease. 

Results also highlight the risk of feeding colostrum contaminated with bacteria and viruses. Replacing maternal colostrum with commercial colostrum replacer reduces a significant route of infection in newborns.

“The USDA estimates Johne’s disease costs the dairy industry $200 million to $250 million in lost productivity each year,” said Jim Quigley, Ph.D., vice president and Director of Calf Operations for APC. “As this study proves, colostrum replacer containing Proteiva™ Functional Proteins is a clean, convenient and consistent way to ensure calves get enough immune antibodies to protect against Johne’s disease infection. 

“Using a commercial plasma-derived colostrum replacer like Acquire could save producers many times the product cost in lost milk production, early culling or poor conditioning several years from now,” Quigley said, “particularly when Johne’s is endemic in the herd.

“Most importantly, this research shows these products can reduce the spread of Johne’s disease through the herd over time, potentially saving hundreds of dollars in control costs per cow.”

The U of M clinical trial followed 497 heifer calves born in herds affected by Johne’s disease on 12 commercial Holstein dairy farms in Minnesota and Wisconsin. Alternately with each calf born, half were fed maternal colostrum and half, colostrum replacer, within an hour of birth. As adults, the cows were tested for the Johne’s disease infection at 30, 42 and 54 months of age.

Although Johne’s disease usually is transmitted to newborn calves, its onset does not show up until cows are at least two years old − and carriers may never show symptoms of infection. Although most producers know the basics about Johne’s disease, control efforts have been unsuccessful in preventing the widespread infection of most dairy herds. 

Acquire colostrum replacer is an easy-to-use, effective alternative to maternal colostrum, with 125 grams of globulin protein in each single-dose pouch. This complete, high quality colostrum replacer allows dairy operators to both control calf globulin protein intake and save the labor of testing each batch of maternal colostrum for inconsistent globulin protein levels.

“Newborn calves depend on adequate amounts of globulin protein for successful passive transfer, and commercial colostrum replacers are a viable alternative to make administration simpler,” Quigley said. “Feeding Acquire can simplify colostrum management and ensure that all calves receive the same consistent, high quality globulin protein every time.”


About APC Inc.

APC−an LGI Company is the recognized global leader in plasma protein fractionation and applications research for feed and industrial use. Since 1981, APC has been proud to provide customers in the ruminant, swine, companion-animal, poultry and aquaculture industries with high quality functional proteins. Its Proteiva™ Functional Proteins do more than provide overall animal nutrition; they retain biological activity after consumption to help animals reach their full potential. APC’s pioneering research on the benefits of spray-dried plasma proteins in animal diets has yielded more than 200 published peer-reviewed journal articles, and more than a dozen patents related to processing and feeding plasma proteins. For more on APC, visit