Determine Whether Dietary Lysophospholipid Supplementation Enhances Immunity in Holstein Dairy Calves

Project Overview

Project Type: Graduate Student
Funds awarded in 2020: $15,000.00
Projected End Date: 08/31/2022
Grant Recipient: Cornell University
Region: Northeast
State: New York
Graduate Student:
Faculty Advisor:
Dr. Joseph McFadden
Cornell University


  • Animals: bovine


  • Animal Production: animal protection and health, feed additives, therapeutics

    Proposal abstract:

    The development of morbidities including diarrhea, septicemia, and respiratory disease
    impairs growth and increases mortality in dairy calves. Calf morbidity and mortality are also
    sources of economic loss for the dairy industry. Effective colostrum management is one
    approach to enhance passive immunity but the benefit is short-lived. Indeed, the calf is most
    likely to develop a morbidity pre-weaning because of underdeveloped innate and adaptive
    immune systems. This “gap in immunity” predisposes calves to infection and morbidity, which
    are commonly managed by antibiotic administration. However, antibiotic mismanagement and
    resistance are societal concerns. Non-antibiotic therapies are needed to improve calf health and
    sustainable dairy production. We propose to investigate dietary lysophospholipid
    supplementation to enhance innate and adaptive immunity in pre-weaned calves. In non-
    ruminants, the lysophospholipid lysophosphatidylcholine (LPC) activates neutrophils and
    peripheral blood mononuclear cells to protect against endotoxemia. Therefore, we aim to
    determine whether dietary LPC supplementation enhances innate and adaptive immune function
    (objective 1) and growth (objective 2) in pre-weaned Holstein calves. Our approach will involve
    feeding pre-weaned calves milk replacer unsupplemented or supplemented with LPC. Calves
    will be intravenously challenged by bacteria-derived endotoxin to study infection. We will
    leverage our experience studying bovine lipid biology and an integrated commercial partnership
    to fast-track new milk replacer product development for on-farm utilization. Our outreach plan
    involves the dissemination of knowledge and practice through peer-review publications,
    conference proceedings, and community extension. The project outcome is the development of a
    dietary approach to elevate immune function in pre-weaned calves to protect against morbidity.

    Project objectives from proposal:

    1. Our first objective is to test the hypothesis that dietary lysophospholipid supplementation enhances innate and adaptive immune function in pre-weaned Holstein calves.
    2. Our second objective is to test the hypothesis that dietary lysophospholipid supplementation enhances growth performance in pre-weaned Holstein calves.
    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.