The focus of animal welfare science has shifted over the last decades from efforts to avoid negative states to ways of allowing animals the experience of positive emotions. They may influence physiological processes in farmed animals, potentially providing health benefits; in addition, the physiological changes might be used as indicators of emotional states. We investigated calves" salivary secretory immunoglobulin A (sIgA) concentrations with regard to a possible circadian rhythm and two situations that elicit positive emotions. Ten saliva samples of 14 calves were taken on two consecutive days; within the course of a day we observed a significant decline in salivary sIgA concentrations at 14:00 h. Further, we probed the animals before and after milk feeding and, contrarily to our prediction, detected lower sIgA concentrations 5 min after feeding than 15 min before. A probable explanation might be an increase in salivary flow rate caused by milk ingestion. We also took samples before and after we stimulated play behavior in calves. There was no significant difference in sIgA concentrations between samples taken before and after play. Although there was a significant correlation between the change in sIgA concentrations and the amount of play behavior shown, the correlation depended on an unexpected decrease of sIgA in animals that played little, and thus, does not support our hypothesis. In general, the data showed a large variability that might arise from different factors that are difficult to standardize in animals. Thus, the use of salivary sIgA concentrations as a marker of positive emotions in calves is not supported conclusively by the present data.