Symposium review: Late-gestation maternal factors affecting the health and development of dairy calves

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

1 Citation (Scopus)

Abstract

Efficient production of heifers is fundamental to the productivity and sustainability of dairy farms. However, high pre-weaning morbidity and mortality risks are frequently reported worldwide, imposing substantial welfare and economic implications. A major contributing factor to disease susceptibility in the neonatal stage is the inability of calves to mount an effective immune response. There is now greater appreciation that exposure in utero to several stresses (nutritional, social, metabolic, etc.) during the last stages of pregnancy have downstream carry-over effects in calves’ health, growth, and development. Suboptimal intrauterine conditions during critical periods of development lead to changes in tissue structure and function that may have long-term consequences on the offspring’s physiology and disease susceptibility. Indeed, pre-weaning metabolic function and growth are associated with future milk production. Thus, late-gestation carry-over impacts span into the lactating stage of the heifers. Nevertheless, researchers have been studying how to minimize these impacts. This review will discuss the effects of maternal stress during late gestation on the offspring’s growth, productivity, metabolism, and health. In addition, strategies focusing on maternal interventions to improve neonatal health will be discussed. A better understanding of the intrauterine conditions affecting calf health and growth may facilitate the design of management practices that could improve neonatal development and future cow productivity.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3882-3892
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Dairy Science
Volume103
Issue number4
Early online date07 Feb 2020
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2020

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