Influence of maternal dietary protein during late gestation on passive and active immune function in young calves

In cattle, it is of extreme importance that neonatal calves take up good quality colostrum, and this in sufficient quantities and as quickly after birth as possible since only then they are immunologically protected by the immunoglobulins present in the colostrum. Several parameters can influence the quality and/or absorption of colostrum by the calves and maternal diet during late gestation is one of them. A research project has been set up by the ILVO to look at colostral differences between dams receiving a low or high protein diet during their dry period.

In BiestRNA we will investigate the influence of maternal dietary protein on the PBMC transcriptome by RNA-sequencing. We’ll investigate two crucial time points. First, we’ll look at the transcriptome right after colostrum intake to see how a different maternal diet during gestation, resulting in potentially different colostrum, can influence the bovine neonatal immunome. Second, we want to examine the impact of good colostrum at a later stage in the calf’s life, at the critical age of weaning. We’ll investigate if passive immunity, when found to be different between the calves of the different groups, will also influence their immune response at weaning.