Absorption of colostral immunoglobulins in neonatal dairy calves

Calves are born without antibodies needed to fight off disease. The only source of antibodies available for the first few weeks of a calf’s life comes from maternal colostrum, the first milk produced by the cow. Calves are able to absorb these antibodies for approximately 24 hours of life, and absorption rates vary widely. Currently, only 15-50% of antibodies consumed are actually absorbed, requiring much improvement. The proposed research project will investigate how, where, and when the antibodies are absorbed. Using intestinal tissue from newborn dairy calves, we will measure the rates of antibody transport every 6 hours of life until 24h, and perform histology to visualize the methods of transport. The partner organization is a developer of bovine colostrum products with a keen interest in improving our understanding of colostrum feeding and absorption. Ultimately, this research will advance our knowledge in the area of newborn calf health.

Becs Hiltz
Faculty Supervisor: 
Anne Laarman
Partner University: