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Penn State Researchers examine the effect of linPRO-R™ on the immune status of transition dairy cows

The transition period for a dairy cow is a time of great risk for the animal. It is a period in which the animal undergoes extreme metabolic and physiological changes that may compromise a cow’s immune system putting it at risk for disease. Several studies have already reported compromised immune systems in cattle just before calving and extending into early lactation1, 2. Developing strategies to strengthen a cow’s immune status during this critical period is of utmost importance for the sustainability of any dairy operation.

It has been well documented that nutritional management can have a profound impact on the immune status of the transition cow. Research has demonstrated the ability of dietary fatty acid supplementation to impact immune cell function and inflammatory responses3. Improving immune cell function and modulating the expression of inflammatory pathways has the potential to benefit the transition cow when its immune status is compromised. However, there is limited information on the immunological effects of specific fatty acids in transition dairy cow diets, and more research is needed.

Molly Penn State 1

Dr. Troy Ott and his research team at Penn State University are attempting to fill in some of the informational gaps on the transition cow. A current research initiative aims to determine if feeding O&T Farms Ltd.’s specialty feed product (linPRO-R™) will have an anti-inflammatory effect on the immune system of transition cows. LinPRO-R™ is an extruded, flaxseed based feed ingredient formulated specifically for ruminant species. The flaxseed in the product makes it an excellent source of the omega-3 fatty acid alpha-linolenic acid (ALA; C18:3n-3) which is commonly recognized for its anti-inflammatory properties.

Dr. Ott’s research will determine whether or not feeding linPRO-R™ to transition cows can reduce inflammatory markers and mediate key inflammatory pathways. The study involves mature lactating dairy cows that were fed either a control ration or a ration supplemented with 1.6 lbs. of the linPRO-R™ product for a period of 21 days after calving. Samples of blood, immune cells and the milk were collected and are currently being analyzed to determine if linPRO-R™ has an effect on the cow’s immune function.

There is no denying the importance of transition cow management, and the research being conducted at Penn State should help contribute to the advancement in transition cow care.

This Research is currently being conducted at Penn State University and was facilitated by a gift from O&T Farms Ltd. For more information on this and other research supported by O&T Farms, please contact O&T Farms.

  1. Kimura, K., J. P. Goff, M. E. Jr. Kehrli, and T. A. Reinhardt. 2002. Decreased neutrophil function as a cause of retained placenta in dairy cattle. J. Dairy Sci. 85:544–550.
  2. Mallard, B. A., L. C. Wagter, M. J. Ireland, and J. C. Dekkers. 1997. Effects of growth hormone, insulin-like growth factor-i, and cortisol on periparturient antibody response profiles of dairy cattle. Vet. Immunol. Immunopathol. 60:61–76
  3. Greco, L. F., J. T. Neves Neto, A. Pedrico, R. A. Ferrazza, F. S. Lima, R. S. Bisinotto, N. Martinez, M. Garcia, E. S. Ribeiro, G. C. Gomes, J. H. Shin, M. A. Ballou, W. W. Thatcher, C. R. Staples, and J. E. P. Santos. 2015. Effects of altering the ratio of dietary n-6 to n-3 fatty acids on performance and inflammatory response to a lipopolysaccharide challenge in lactation Holstein cows. J. Dairy Sci. 98:602–617.

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