Beyond immunoglobulin concentrations: Exploring the potential of freshcolostrum on immune development and health in dairy calves

PI: Lautaro Rostoll Cangiano

Rostoll Cangiano is an assistant professor of animal and dairy sciences at UW–Madison. His research focuses on dairy cattle immunology and host pathogen interactions for improving animal health and welfare. Rostoll Cangiano’s position is funded by the Dairy Innovation Hub.

Graudate student: Malena Cid de la Paz is pursing a master’s degree in the Department of Animal and Dairy Sciences and is mentored by Lautaro Rostoll Cangiano. She attended the National University of La Plata, where she learned and practiced veterinary medicine.

Calves are born immunologically naïve and depend exclusively on colostrum for transfer of immunity to confer antibody, and cell-mediated protection against environmental pathogens during the first weeks of life and the calf immune system gradually matures over time. Although recent improvements have been made in colostrum management to reduce neonatal mortality and morbidity, most studies and management recommendations focus exclusively on the role of colostrum immunoglobulin G (IgG) on calf health. However, while antibody-mediated protection is important, it is not the sole constituent of transferred maternal immunity. Fresh colostrum contains substantial amounts of live immune cells that have been observed to play an important role in early-life immune responses. However, freezing colostrum (a common on farm practice to store surplus colostrum on farm) leads to the loss of live immune cells and can compromise its effectiveness in protecting calf health. To date, it remains unclear whether frozen colostrum can provide the same level of protection as fresh colostrum. This proposal aims to investigate the effects of colostrum live immune cells on calf immune development, and its role in protecting from infections, directly addressing the DIH priority area of ensuring animal health and welfare. We expect to 1) Develop best practice recommendations for Wisconsin dairy farmers, veterinarians, and dairy industry stakeholders on colostrum management practices for optimal calf health; 2) Reduce disease incidence in calves, and as a result, decrease antibiotic use; 3) Improve animal welfare, public perception, and social acceptability of dairy industry practices ultimately advancing DIH priority areas.

Malena Cid de la Paz