Interpretive Summary: The effects of timing of high immune response phenotyping in relation to weaning on immune responses of crossbred beef calves
By: Shannon C Beard, Julie D Schmied, Douglas C Hodgins, Bonnie A Mallard
Understanding the optimal time to immunophenotype beef calves is important for the accurate estimation of their genetic ability to resist disease. The compound stressors experienced by a calf during weaning may have a similar impact on the immune system as chronic stress. Therefore, the immune response phenotype of a calf immunophenotyped during the weaning period may not truly reflect the animal’s genuine capacity for immune response. To accurately identify cattle with a superior capacity for immune response, with the goal of genetically selecting cattle for immunocompetence, immunophenotypes must be measured accurately. In this study, the effect of time of immunophenotyping in relation to weaning on immune responses of beef calves was determined. Calves immunophenotyped at weaning had lesser antibody-mediated and cell-mediated immune responses than calves immunophenotyped 2 mo post-weaning, this effect was influenced by sex. Sire affected immune responses when calves were immunophenotyped 2 mo post-weaning, but not when calves were immunophenotyped at weaning, indicating that when immunophenotyped post-weaning, the genetic component of a calf’s immune response is quantified without being obscured by other environmental factors.
Read the full article in the Journal of Animal Science.