Past Projects

Animal Health and Welfare

What bioactive components undergo passive transfer in beef cattle and is this influenced by pre-partum protein supplementation?

Research Lead: Dr. Katie Wood , University of Guelph

Executive Summary

This project directly addresses BFO's specific objective of cow productivity. Colostrum is known to play a pivotal role in the health and development of the calf through the transfer of immunoglobulins. However, there are numerous other bioactive components present in greater concentrations in colostrum than in fluid milk which may have positive impacts on calf health, growth performance and efficiency. These include numerous growth factors, antimicrobial agents, and compounds which are known to promote gut health. Many of these compounds are not well characterized in beef colostrum. Additionally, it is not well known how prepartum maternal nutrition can impact the quality and composition of colostrum. There is evidence to suggest that the protein requirement may be greater around calving than originally suggested. Thus, providing additional dietary protein may also impact colostrum quality. Using proteomic and lipidomic approaches, we will characterize differences in colostrum bioactive components between dams fed 140% of the metabolizable protein supply and those fed to current requirements without changes in dietary energy. In addition this work will evaluate the efficiency of passive transfer of these components into the serum of the calf 6-h after colostrum consumption. This will provide novel information on dietary impacts on colostrum which will have implications for calf health and future calf performance.

 In addition this work may suggest a developmental programming mechanism for improved growth, performance and feed efficiency in calves. Colostrum has a variety of bioactives that may influence future performance and growth. Components such as Insulin-like growth factor-1, growth hormone, and prolactin have been identified as being in large concentrations in colostrum relative to milk, and although they have immediate benefits for the calf, they may have lasting impacts on overall growth performance and efficiency (Blum and Hammon, 2000) and may also be responsive to epigenetic signalling in beef cattle (Paradis et al. 2016, in review).

 This work will provide novel information about the interaction of prepartum cow nutrition and colostrum quality and will also provide novel information characterizing bioactive components in beef colostrum that may play key role in subsequent calf health and performance.

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