Managing gut inflammation during weaning in young calves

Project Details

Status: Completed
Investment: $147,000
Commodity: Dairy Cattle
Organization: University of Alberta
Investigator: Anne Laarman

Calf mortality remains high, anywhere from 5-10% on average, and approximately 25% of dairy calves suffer from scouring prior to weaning.

Why is this research important for Alberta ag?

Calf health and mortality remain and on-going concern on Alberta dairies and are a major driver of antibiotic use on-farm. Calf mortality remains high, anywhere from 5-10% on average, and approximately 25% of dairy calves suffer from scouring prior to weaning. Currently, a variety of strategies of calf rearing are used, especially regarding the weaning process, with little understanding of how these strategies impact inflammation and scouring.

This research will investigate how commonly-used weaning practices affect gut inflammation in young calves. During the weaning transition, researchers will investigate early and late weaning, as well as abrupt and gradual weaning, to better understand and quantify the impact weaning strategies have on gut inflammation, gut health, and scouring in young calves.

What benefits can producers expect from this research?

Calf health is a critical and expensive issue on-farm, with calf and heifer rearing costs representing 10-20% of all on-farm costs. Findings will lead to the development of weaning strategies that lessen stress on calves on Alberta dairies, reduce the need for antibiotic use, and inform best weaning strategies.

How will these research findings reach producers on-farm?

Extension will be carried out through producer organizations like Alberta Milk in the form of presentations, fact sheets, and workshops. Findings will also be disseminated at industry-oriented conferences such as the Western Canadian Dairy Seminar and Pacific Northwest Animal Nutrition Conference. The research community will be reached through presentations at the Canadian Society for Animal Science, American Society for Animal Science, the American Dairy Science Association, and through publications in relevant journals.

Funded in part by the Government of Canada under the Canadian Agricultural Partnership, a federal-provincial-territorial initiative.

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