Finding innovations to improve calf gastrointestinal health
The neonatal and pre-weaned periods are the most challenging in dairy production, resulting in the highest mortality and morbidity rates, with diarrhea proving the most common cause of calf health problems. In order to treat and control this diarrhea, producers often rely on antibiotic therapy. An alternative is to provide living microorganisms (probiotics) that minimize pathogenic bacteria colonization of the gastrointestinal tract (GIT), without producing drug residues, when directly fed to animals. The aim of the proposed project is to examine whether the addition of one specific yeast probiotic, Saccharomyces cerevisiae boulardii (SB), impacts gastrointestinal function, structure, and microbiota, as well as GIT health on gut function in early-life calves. This will be the first large study to explore the molecular and physiological mechanisms behind how probiotics affects GIT health in calves.