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Document Type

Thesis - University Access Only

Award Date


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Department / School

Dairy Science

First Advisor

Sharon T. Franklin


The fat soluble vitamins, A and E, are essential for normal growth and development of young calves. Vitamin A has a role in vision, growth, metabolism, and immunity. Vitamin E has a role in cellular and humoral immune response and is an antioxidant. When vitamins A and E are fed in the optimal amounts, calves benefit, however, when excess of vitamin A is fed vitamin E absorption and utilization can be hindered creating detrimental effects on the calves. Therefore calves were fed 1 of 8 treatment diets containing 1 of 4 amounts of vitamin A and 1 of 2 types of vitamin E. The amounts of vitamin A fed were 0, 1,700, 34,000, or 68,000 IU daily and the forms of vitamin E fed were either d-α-tocopherol or d-α-tocopheryl acetate at 100 IU daily. Male Holstein calves (n=53) were obtained at birth from two local farms and brought to the South Dakota State University Dairy Research and Teaching Facility, where they were housed outdoors in individual calf hutches. Calves remained on the trial for 4 wk. The relative dose response (RDR) assay was performed at 20 h post colostrum feeding and after 4 wk. Vitamin A concentrations in the liver increased as supplementation levels of vitamin A increased by 4 wk. Plasma concentrations of retinal also increased by 4 wk, as supplementation amounts of vitamin A increased, however, the concentrations of plasma retinal of all 4 groups of calves were considered deficient by accepted guidelines. The 6 hr RDR assay at 4 wk determined that calves fed supplemental vitamin A were sufficient in vitamin A and calves fed no vitamin A were deficient by accepted guidelines. The RDR assay, however, was not an effective indicator of vitamin A status at 20 h post colostrum feeding, possibly due to colostrum interference or due to treatment interference. The RDR assay correlated well with actual liver concentrations of vitamin A, whereas, retina concentrations of plasma were not an accurate indicator of vitamin A status. No significant differences were seen among treatment groups in packed cell volume, white blood cells, serum protein, immunoglobulin M, and fecal scores. Flow cytometry was completed weekly on peripheral blood mononuclear leukocytes and no significant differences among vitamin A treatments were seen. Calves receiving no supplementation of vitamin A had the greatest weight gain compared to calves fed supplemental vitamin A In conclusion, no beneficial effects were found when feeding calves 34,000 or 68,000 IU daily of vitamin A. These high amounts of vitamin A could be detrimental. By feeding National Research Council recommendations of 1,700 IU daily of vitamin A normal growth and development would be obtained without the risk of harmful interactive effects with other vitamins such as vitamin E.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Calves -- Nutrition
Vitamin A in animal nutrition
Vitamin E in animal nutrition


Includes bibliographical references (pages 66-74)



Number of Pages



South Dakota State University


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