February 2020


On a spring calving, pastoral dairy farm, the first 40 heifer calves born after calving mid-point (50% of the herd calved) were blood sampled within 24 h. Thirty were selected, using stratified randomization to form two equal groups (treatment and control) with the same distribution of serum total protein, copper, selenium, zinc, and manganese concentrations, age and breed. From the remaining 10 calves, five were randomly selected into a sentinel group to assess field exposure to Salmonella spp.

All calves received two injections of a killed vaccine containing Salmonella spp. antigens at 2 and 6 weeks of age. Concurrently, the treatment group were injected with 1 mL/50 kg trace mineral supplement (TMS) containing 40 mg zinc, 10 mg manganese, 5 mg selenium, 15 mg copper per mL. Sentinel animals received no injections. All animals were bled from 2 to 9 weeks for assay of immune function. At three and four weeks, white blood cells from TMS calves had an increased percentage of cells phagocytosing (effect size = 9.36 and 4.35) and increased number of bacteria ingested per cell (effect size = 0.93 and 1.52). No differences were detected in gamma interferon response (effect size <0.15) or Salmonella sp. antibody titres (effect size <0.20).</p.

Andrew Bates, Matt Wells, Richard Laven, Line Ferriman, Axel Heiser, Clare Fitzpatrick