The objectives were to evaluate the effect of supplementing saturated or unsaturated long-chain fatty acids (FA) to nulliparous and parous Holstein animals (n. = 78) during late gestation on FA profile of colostrum and plasma of newborn calves and on production and absorption of IgG. The saturated FA supplement (SAT) was enriched in C18:0 and the unsaturated FA supplement (ESS) was enriched in the essential FA C18:2n-6. Fatty acids were supplemented at 1.7% of dietary dry matter to low-FA diets (1.9% of dietary dry matter) during the last 8. wk of gestation. Calves were fed 4. L of colostrum within 2. h of birth from their own dam or from a dam fed the same treatment. Feeding fat did not affect prepartum dry matter intake, body weight change, or gestation length. Parous but not nulliparous dams tended to give birth to heavier calves if fed fat prepartum. Parous dams were less able to synthesize essential FA derivatives, as evidenced by lower desaturase indices, compared with nulliparous dams, suggesting a greater need for essential FA supplementation. The FA profile of colostrum was modified to a greater degree by prepartum fat feeding than was that of neonatal calf plasma. The placental transfer and synthesis of elongated n-3 FA (C20:5, C22:5, and C22:6) were reduced, whereas the n-6 FA (C18:2, C18:3, and C20:3) were increased in plasma of calves born from dams fed ESS rather than SAT. Supplementing unsaturated FA prepartum resulted in elevated concentrations of trans isomers of unsaturated monoene and diene FA, as well as C18:2n-6 in colostrum. Serum concentrations of IgG tended to be increased in calves born from dams fed fat compared with those not fed fat, and prepartum feeding of SAT tended to improve circulating concentrations of IgG in newborn calves above the feeding of ESS. Apparent efficiency of absorption of IgG was improved in calves born from dams fed fat, and SAT supplementation appeared more effective than supplementation with ESS. Feeding SAT prepartum may be of greater benefit based upon greater circulating IgG concentrations of calves after colostrum feeding. Feeding moderate amounts of saturated or unsaturated long-chain FA during the last 8. wk of gestation changed the FA profile of colostrum and plasma of neonates to reflect that of the supplements.
- Dairy calf
- Fatty acid