Effects of reducing the omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acid ratio in milk replacer on intestinal health in neonatal calves

Dairy calves are generally fed whole milk or milk replacer during the first weeks of life. Compared with whole milk, milk replacer containing vegetable oils has a higher polyunsaturated fat content. More specifically, it is high in omega-6 and low in omega-3 fatty acids, making the omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acid ratio ten times higher in milk replacer compared with whole milk. Omega-6 fatty acids are precursors for pro-inflammatory molecules and therefore, the hypothesis of this project is that milk replacers with high omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acid ratio may induce inflammation and compromise gut barrier function. The objective of this study is to evaluate effects of reducing omega-6 and increasing omega-3 fatty acids in milk replacer on intestinal health and inflammation in calves from birth up to 3 weeks of age. The results of this study will contribute to our knowledge regarding milk replacer formulations to improve dairy calf health on farm.

Faculty Supervisor:

Michael Steele


Anna Welboren


Trouw Nutrition Canada


Animal science




University of Guelph



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