Garrett A. Fraess, Samantha Sander, Ellen Bronson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Failure of passive transfer of immunity (FPT) leads to increased calf morbidity and mortality and requires intensive, time-sensitive, and often expensive management for nondomestic ruminants. Without species-specific information with which to make informed decisions, neonatal data from domestic ruminants are often extrapolated to nondomestic zoo-housed species. To date, there have been no studies evaluating FPT in sitatunga (Tragelaphus spekii). The goal of the present study was to establish parameters to characterize adequate passive transfer in sitatunga calves and compare them to published reference intervals in other species. Medical records of 22 sitatunga calves (12 female, 10 male) were reviewed. Seventeen of these calves were defined as "healthy," having survived at least 60 days without colostrum administration or a plasma transfusion. Calf weight, serum glucose, serum gamma-glutamyl transferase (GGT), total protein (TP), globulin concentrations, and results of a zinc sulfate turbidity test (ZSTT) were noted where possible. Mean birth weight of healthy calves at 24 hr was 4.5 kg (range: 3.76.5 kg, n = 12). The mean blood glucose in healthy calves was 152 mg/dl (range: 80-182, n = 16), mean serum TP concentration was 5.9 g/dl (range: 4.9-7.5, n = 16), mean serum globulin concentration was 3.3 g/dl (range: 1.7-4.7, n = 17), and mean serum GGT concentration was 466 U/L (range: 91-1901, n = 16). A ZSTT was performed for 10 healthy calves, resulting in four negative ZSTT results despite having no clinical signs of FPT and the calves having been observed nursing before testing. Sitatunga appear to have lower values for normal FPT parameters than those developed for domestic cattle. This study illustrates the difficulty of cross-species comparisons, as even closely related species can vary greatly in biologic parameters.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)259-264
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Zoo and Wildlife Medicine
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • Failure of passive transfer
  • Tragelaphus spekii
  • neonatal immunity
  • passive transfer
  • ruminant
  • sitatunga

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • veterinary(all)


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