A conventional approach in dairy cow nutrition programs during late gestation is to feed moderate-energy diets. The effects of the maternal plane of nutrition on immune function and metabolism in newborn calves are largely unknown. Holstein cows (n. =. 20) were fed a controlled-energy (CON) diet (1.24 Mcal/kg) for the entire dry period (~50 d) or the CON diet during the first 29 d of the dry period followed by a moderate-energy (OVE) diet (1.47 Mcal/kg) during the last 21 d prepartum. All calves were weighed at birth before first colostrum intake. Calves chosen for this study (n. =. 6 per maternal diet) had blood samples harvested before colostrum feeding (d 0) and at 2 and 7 d of age. Blood samples were used to determine metabolites, acute-phase proteins, oxidative stress markers, hormones, phagocytic capacity of polymorphonuclear leukocytes (PMN) and monocytes, and total RNA was isolated from PMN. Calves from OVE dams weighed, on average, 5. kg less at birth (44.0 vs. 48.6. kg) than calves from CON dams. Blood glucose concentration in OVE calves had a more pronounced increase between 0 and 2 d than CON, at which point phagocytosis by PMN averaged 85% in OVE and 62% in CON. Compared with CON, calves from OVE had greater expression of TLR4, but lower expression of PPARA and PPARD at birth. Expression of PPARG and RXRA decreased between 0 and 2 d in both groups. Concentrations of leptin, cholesterol, ceruloplasmin, reactive oxygen metabolites, myeloperoxidase, retinol, tocopherol, IgG, and total protein, as well as expression of SOD2 and SELL increased markedly by 2 d in both groups; whereas, cortisol, albumin, acid-soluble protein, NEFA, insulin, as well as expression of IL6, TLR4, IL1R2, LTC4S, and ALOX5 decreased by 2 d. By 7 d of age, the concentration of haptoglobin was greater than precolostrum and was lower for OVE than CON calves. Our data provide evidence for a carry-over effect of maternal energy overfeeding during the last 3 wk before calving on some measurements of metabolism in the calf at birth and the phagocytic capacity of blood neutrophils after colostrum feeding. It might be feasible to design nutrient supplements to fortify colostrum in a way that metabolic and immunologic capabilities of the calf are improved.
- Dairy cow
- Fetal programming