proposal English title Innovative ways to boost a healthy start in young calves: working on improved colostrum quality and transfer of passive immunity.

01 January 2018 → Ongoing
Research Foundation - Flanders (FWO)
Research disciplines
No data available
Project description

Because the placenta of ruminants is impermeable for antibodies, neonatal calves are born
without immunity and they rely on the supply and absorption of antibodies from the first
colostrum. Although farmers are aware of this, a lot of calves do not realize sufficient absorption
of antibodies (IgGs) due to either low or variable IgG levels in colostrum or due to insufficient
absorption of these IgGs. The aim of this study is to analyze whether colostrum contains other
important components besides IgGs that can influence colostrum quality or absorption of
immunoglobulins in the gut of the neonate. There are two hypotheses, for one thing we’d like to
look into the role of microRNAs present in the colostrum. On the other hand, we want to
investigate if the microbiome of colostrum effects the uptake of antibodies. Next, we want to
investigate how the maternal diet during the last weeks of gestation (dry period in dairy cattle) can
influence either the colostrum quality or the absorption efficiency. The effect of dietary protein
levels in the dry period on the composition of colostrum and/or IgG absorption efficiency by the
calf will be investigated. If we can prove that microRNAs and/or colostral microbiota have an
influence on the IgG absorption in the calf’s intestines, new strategies to improve colostrum
quality, by the addition of miRNA vesicles, beneficial bacteria or pre- and probiotica, can be
developed to help the farmer in the optimization of his colostrum management.