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Role of Immunity in Livestock Production

Role of Immunity in Livestock Production

Intensification and expansion of milk and beef production inevitably leads to increased risk of infectious disease spread and exacerbation. High-yielding dairy cattle and their calves are more vulnerable to various diseases leading to shorter life expectancy.
During the transition period, dairy cows experience immune and metabolic dysregulation, that makes them very vulnerable to various infectious diseases. Calves are also most significantly impacted by the industry demands whereby the young are separated from the cows almost immediately after birth. Such practices lead to physiological stress and suboptimal immune function in cows and high vulnerability of their calves.
Natural anti-infectious immunity, vaccination, biosecurity, nutrition, and calf management practices plays important role for optimal health in a cattle herd¹.

In ruminants, there is no prenatal transfer of immunoglobulins from the mother to the fetus across the placenta, and consequently offspring consumption of colostrum has a fundamental role in maternal antibody transfer.

The transfer of antibodies from mother to offspring provides crucial protection against infection to offspring during early life and neonatal total IgG antibody levels were positively related to early growth and
impact offspring performance. Failure of maternal antibody transfer is associated with reduced offspring growth rates, high neonatal mortality².


The immune system protects animals from harmful substances by recognizing and responding to antigens and contributes to animal well-being.


The immune response is how host recognizes and defends itself against bacteria, viruses, and substances that appear foreign and harmful. An efficient immune response protects against many diseases and disorders.

1. Vlasova A.N. et al., Bovine Immunology: Implicatons for Dairy Cattle, Frontiers in Immunology, 2021.

2. Sparks A. M., et al., Maternally derived anti-helminth antibodies predict offspring survival in a wild mammal, Proc. R. Soc. B 287: 2020.