Antimicrobial factors in bovine colostrum

  • Hannu Korhonen Institute of Dairy Science, University of Helsinki 00710 Helsinki 71


The study determined the content of certain antimicrobial proteins in the colostrum of five Ayrshire cows during the first 9 milkings and in milk 14 days from parturition. The following factors were analyzed: total whey protein (WP), total immunoglobulins (Ig), lactoferrin (LF), lactoperoxidase (LP), lysozyme (LZM), and Salmonella typhimurium antibody titer towards somatic (04,12) and flagellar (H1.5, Hi) antigens. The content of all factors varied considerably in the first milking of the various cows, but the difference in content for all but LP and LZM decreased along with the number of milkings. The concentrations of WP, Ig and LF were at their highest in the first milking and dropped markedly in the following milkings. On the other hand, the LP concentration was on average greatest during the 3rd and 4th milkings, and the LZM concentration during the 7th and 8th milkings. The colostral whey from the first milking had the following concentrations on average: WP 69.2 mg/ml, Ig 52.0 mg/ml, LF 1.53 mg/ml, LP 22.8 µg/ml and LZM 0.40µ/ml. In the milk whey the concentrations were as follows: WP 12.2 mg/ml, Ig 0.95 mg/ml, LF 0.09 mg/ml, LP 20.1 µg/ml and LZM 0.37 µg/ml. Agglutinating antibodies to a human pathogenic strain of S. typhimurium were found against both O and H antigens in the colostrum of all cows. One cow, which had been vaccinated with S. typhimurium before parturition, had significantly higher titers than the unvaccinated animals. The latter were found to have antibodies only in the first two or three milkings post partum while the vaccinated cow still had antibodies in the milk 14 days post partum. The results obtained permit the assumption that in addition to antibodies, the nonspecific antibacterial factors (LF, LP and LZM) may contribute to the antimicrobial activity of colostrum and thus enhance the resistance of a newborn calf to microbial infections during the first week of life.


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Dec 1, 1977
How to Cite
Korhonen, H. (1977). Antimicrobial factors in bovine colostrum . Agricultural and Food Science, 49(5), 434-447.