Graduate Student Literature Review: Role of antioxidants in calf immunity, growth, and health

Hannah Carlson, Angel Abuelo

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

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The neonatal period for dairy calves is crucial for immune, metabolic, and physical development, which opens a window of disease susceptibility. Although the industry has relied on tools such as colostrum and vaccination to support early life immunity, there are several challenges when vaccinating neonatal calves: (1) the inability to mount an effective immune response, (2) interference with maternal antibodies, and (3) oxidative stress (OS). Oxidative stress, which is characterized as an imbalance of pro-oxidants to antioxidants, results in cellular oxidative damage or dysfunction, or both.. Oxidative stress has become a topic of interest in the neonatal period because it negatively affects lymphocyte function, which might affect vaccine response. Widely studied in mature cattle, antioxidant supplementation has the potential to improve reduction-oxidation balance and immune response. Evidence supporting the use of antioxidants such as vitamins and minerals in neonatal calves is far scarcer but necessary to optimize immunity and disease resistance. This review summarizes research on the effect of antioxidant supplementation on calf immunity, health, and productivity and highlights remaining gaps in knowledge. Overall, micronutrient supplementation, including vitamins and minerals, in preweaning and postweaning calves improved immune responses but there is conflicting evidence supporting the subsequent positive effect on calf health and growth performance.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4844-4854
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Dairy Science
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 24 Apr 2024


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