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Original Research ARTICLE Provisionally accepted The full-text will be published soon. Notify me

Front. Vet. Sci. | doi: 10.3389/fvets.2019.00371

The effect of milk replacer composition on the intestinal microbiota of pre-ruminant dairy calves

James Badman1,  Kristian Daly1,  Jennifer Kelly1,  Andrew W. Moran1, John Cameron1, Ian Watson2, John Newbold2 and  Soraya Shirazi-Beechey1*
  • 1University of Liverpool, United Kingdom
  • 2Volac International Ltd, United Kingdom

The impact of dietary composition and prebiotics, in promoting the growth of beneficial groups of gut bacteria, is increasingly apparent. Using Illumina MiSeq sequencing of bacterial 16S rRNA genes, this study has aimed to characterize and compare the establishment of the gastrointestinal microbiota in dairy calves given two different commercial milk replacer (MR) diets. MR1 and MR2 contain different levels of macronutrients such as protein and fat. Moreover, differences in manufacturing methods infer that MR2 may contain a greater proportion of conjugated milk oligosaccharides (OS), while MR1 contains more free milk OS. A total of 10 dairy calves, 5 in each group, were assigned to one of the two MR diets. Freshly voided fecal samples were taken at 0, 7, 14, 28 and 49 days after first consumption of milk replacer. The relative abundance of two individual Bifidobacterium species, which are known to utilize milk OS, and Faecalibacterium prausnitzii were significantly higher at day 7 in the fecal microbiome of calves fed MR2 compared with MR1. These commensal bacteria are widely regarded as probiotic organisms that confer a health benefit on the host. Our findings suggest that the composition of bovine milk replacers can have significant effects on the establishment of the gut microbiota in pre-weaned (neonatal) dairy calves. Better understanding of milk composition-microbiota-host interactions in early life will inform targeted interventions to increase growth and reduce mortality in young animals.

Keywords: intestine, microbiota, Pre-ruminant, Dairy calf, milk replacer

Received: 25 Jul 2019; Accepted: 08 Oct 2019.

Copyright: © 2019 Badman, Daly, Kelly, Moran, Cameron, Watson, Newbold and Shirazi-Beechey. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

* Correspondence: Dr. Soraya Shirazi-Beechey, University of Liverpool, Liverpool, L69 7ZX, North West England, United Kingdom,