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EGS-ABG : European Graduate School in Animal Breeding and Genetics


Antibody quality of colostrum and milk in dairy cows and uptake of colostral antibodies in dairy calves: importance for health and production, and potential for genetic selection

Nr : 2-SLU-WU

Topic :
Antibody quality of colostrum and milk in dairy cows and uptake of colostral antibodies in dairy calves: importance for health and production, and potential for genetic selection

Host Institutions :
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (Sweden)
Wageningen University (The Netherlands)

Summary:
The antibody quality of the colostrum is essential for the newborn calf, as the calf is totally dependent on the passive transfer of colostral antibodies during the first weeks of life to keep healthy and survive until weaning. A high proportion of the cows have insufficient antibodies in the colostrum. There are also a high proportion of calves that do not obtain as much antibodies as expected. This is called failure of passive transfer (FPT). Some calves, on the other hand, do acquire antibodies very efficiently. We are convinced that genetic factors are important for these processes. Natural antibodies (NAbs) are considered as a part of the innate immunity and are present despite the absence of infection, probably induced by the normal microflora. Such NAbs are also present in milk, and these are influenced by genetic factors with heritabilities ranging from 0.08 to 0.55. NAb are an important component of the first line of defense of the immune system and can prevent infection.

The aims of this project are to study how the antibody quality of colostrum and the efficiency of passive transfer affect health and production in dairy herds. The student will focus on the genetic aspects of variation in antibody levels in colostrum and milks, uptake of colostral antibodies in calves, and how this reflects the health of the cow and affects the health of the calf. The student will perform GWAS analyses, fine mapping and evaluate potential for genetic or genomic selection. This means that the candidate must have a strong background in quantitative genetics and experience of statistical genetics tools.


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