Boosting the immune systems of calves before they're even born is the focus of new research through the Graham Centre for Agricultural Innovation.
The pilot study by Dr Angel Abuelo (pictured) in the Charles Sturt University (CSU) School of Animal and Veterinary Sciences in Wagga Wagga will use molecular biology techniques to examine the pathways involved in immune system development in-utero.
"I'll be investigating how the nutrition and metabolic status of a cow during late pregnancy influences the programming and development of the offspring's immune system," Dr Abuelo said.
"A better understanding of the immune system during the early stages of life will help us to develop management practices that producers can implement during gestation to enhance disease resistance.
"This has the potential to improve the health of calves and reduce mortality rates saving producers money and improving productivity."
Dr Abuelo said the research could also have benefits beyond the farm gate.
"Decreasing the incidence of disease by improving the immunity of a herd should also help producers to reduce the use of antibiotics," Dr Abuelo said.
"This is important in decreasing the development of antibiotic resistant strains of bacteria, which has a significant public health benefit."
Dr Abuelo's study is supported by a Graham Centre Research Centre Fellowship.The Centre has awarded 13 fellowships in 2017, worth almost $500 000, to increase research capacity by funding travel, conferences and workshops, publication costs and teaching support.