Antibody quality of colostrum and milk in dairy cows: importance for health and production, and potential for genetic selection

Last changed: 12 March 2018

The antibody quality of the colostrum is essential for the newborn calf, as the calf is totally dependent on the passive transfer of colostral antibodies during the first 24 hours of life to stay healthy and survive until weaning. A high proportion of the cows have insufficient antibodies in the colostrum. There are also calves that do not obtain as much antibodies as expected. This is called failure of passive transfer (FPT). Some calves, on the other hand, do acquire antibodies very efficiently. We are convinced that genetic factors are important for these processes.

The aims of this project are to study how the antibody quality of colostrum and the efficiency of passive transfer affects health and production in dairy herds. Moreover, the project aims to identify candidate genes associated with antibody quality of colostrum and passive transfer, and their potential for genetic selection, potentially leading to substantially improved calf health and production.


The project is funded by: EU (EGS-ABG) and SLF

Duration of the project: 2015-2019

Project Leader: Dirk-Jan de Koning (HGEN), Jonas Wensman (KV)

Other contributors: Juan Cordero (HGEN, Phd student), Madeleine Tråven (KV), Ulf Emanuelson (KV), Henk Bovenhuis (Wageningen University), Henk Parmentier (Wageningen University)