Poor vigor at birth has been associated with reduced IgG absorption from colostrum and a reduced vitality in neonatal dairy calves. Some natural compounds, such as green tea extract, may improve vitality in compromised calves. The objective of this randomized controlled trial was to evaluate the potential of supplementing a green tea extract (15 mL) to calves to improve vigor and activity behavior for the first 72 h postnatal. Also, this study aimed to investigate the influence of green tea extract supplementation on calf serum IgG concentration and the apparent efficiency of absorption (AEA) of colostral IgG. Holstein calves (n = 24) weighing 42.49 ± 1.07 kg postnatal received a complete random assignment at 3 h of one 15-mL dose of green tea extract (Calf Perk, TechMix) or distilled water orally before tube feeding colostrum replacer (Premolac Plus IgG, Zinpro) at 4 h postnatal. Two observers assessed for calving time and dystocia by live video stream to retrieve all calves within 2 h postnatal. One veterinarian performed a baseline vigor assessment based on heart rate and response to stimuli on all calves at 2.5 h, before colostrum feeding at 3.75 h, as well as at 24, 48, and 72 h postnatal. Calf blood samples were taken to assess total IgG by radial immunodiffusion assay at 2.5, 6, 12, 24, 48, and 72 h. Calf vitality was also observed continuously by video for all calves to determine whether treatment was associated with attempts to stand, lying time, and exploration of their pen environment for the first 24 h. We used an ordinal logistic model to evaluate the odds of green tea extract improving a calf's vigor category from 2.5 h postnatal to 72 h of age. Vigor score was categorized as abnormal (≤4), average (5), or alert (≥6), with hour as a fixed effect. We also ran mixed linear models to evaluate the effect of extract on total IgG and AEA, with time and dystocia as fixed effects. Five dystocia calves were enrolled (2 control, 3 extract), but assistance was minor (e.g., manual assistance and all were assisted within 1 h). Baseline vigor scores and baseline total IgG were not different between groups. Vigor score category was not associated with green tea extract supplementation (odds ratio 1.17; 95% CI: 0.43–3.15) but increased with time compared with controls. We observed no association of treatment with total IgG or AEA in the calves, suggesting green tea extract does not compromise IgG absorption. Calf vitality, lying behavior, and exploratory behavior were not associated with green tea extract treatment. Our findings suggest that green tea extract supplementation does not affect AEA and serum IgG concentration in calves. Future research should evaluate whether green tea extract improves vitality in calves experiencing severe dystocia.

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