A review of synbiotic supplements on faecal immunoglobulin A in bovine neonates

S. J. Terrill, A. J. Heinrichs, M. R. Long

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Antibiotics have been used with excellent results for over 50 years in livestock industries. The numerous benefits associated with antibiotic treatment have led to widespread subtherapeutic use in raising dairy calves. In recent years, interest in antibiotic alternatives has grown as concerns about antibiotic resistance in animals and humans have been publicized. One alternative is supplementation of calf diets with prebiotics, probiotics or some combination of the two (known as synbiotics). The major benefit of treatment with these products is increased proliferation and growth of healthy gut bacteria. The presence of a healthy intestinal microflora has been shown to benefit the whole body, including increased weight gain, decreased presence of pathogens and enhanced immune function. Although limited research has been done in calves, work with other species has shown that addition of these products to an animal.s diet can improve mucosal immune system function, increasing levels of immunoglobulin A (IgA), both in the serum and intestinal mucosa. As the antibody secreted by mucosal surfaces, IgA is considered the first line of defence against infections entering the body. Multiple explanations exist for the mechanism of how probiotic bacteria (and, in turn, prebiotic supplements) increase IgA secretion. It has been proposed that bacterial cell components such as peptidoglycan, cytoplasmic contents and techoic acids may elicit this immune reaction. As more research focuses on mechanisms, and not simply results, of pre-, pro-and synbiotic supplementation, products will be able to be fine-tuned to enhance their function and improve results when fed to calves.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number3
Pages (from-to)1-6
Number of pages6
JournalCAB Reviews: Perspectives in Agriculture, Veterinary Science, Nutrition and Natural Resources
StatePublished - 2009

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Veterinary
  • General Agricultural and Biological Sciences
  • Nature and Landscape Conservation


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