Effect of an immunomodulatory feed additive on markers of immunity in pasture-fed dairy cows

  • Playford M
  • Dawson K
  • Playford S
 et al. 
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BACKGROUND: Infectious diseases in dairy cows often follow a time of nutritional or physiological stress and the subsequent altered immune system function. This study aimed to determine if the immunomodulatory effects of a feed additive previously observed in experimental animals and housed cattle fed total mixed rations could be reproduced in pasture-fed dairy cattle under Australian conditions.

METHODS: The study included 34 pasture-fed dairy cattle given the treatment (n = 17) or placebo (bentonite, n = 17) for an acclimation period of 15 days followed by 60 days of supplementation. Blood tests were taken pre-trial and then 30, 60 and 90 days after acclimation. Blood samples were extracted and preserved in Trizol and analysed for immune markers.

RESULTS: Pasture-fed dairy cows in the treatment group had significantly higher levels of the immune markers interleukin-8R and L-selectin in comparison with placebo-fed cows at 60 days after the start of supplementation.

CONCLUSION: The immunomodulatory effects of the additive observed in the current study and the associated enhanced neutrophil function demonstrated by other studies suggest a role in decreasing the rates of mastitis and other infectious diseases of dairy cattle, particularly during times of nutritional or physiological stress.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Dairy cows
  • Feed additives
  • Immune markers
  • Infectious diseases
  • Mastitis
  • Nutritional stress

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