October 25, 2019


US-Israel researchers commence study to prevent postpartum diseases in dairy cattle


The research, funded by the US-Israel Binational Agriculture Research and Development Fund at US$310,000 is an international collaboration between researchers from Michigan State University (MSU) and Israel's Agriculture Research Organization.


Dairy cattle go through a postpartum period three weeks before and after calving and during the first month of lactation, where there are more susceptible to diseases because of the breakdown of fats (inflammation and severe lipolysis) in adipose tissue. More than 75% of dairy cattle diseases occur during this postpartum period as the animal increases its metabolic needs.


Besides disease susceptibility, postpartum dairy cattle can suffer from reproductive failure, poor lactation functions or the bigger danger of culling.


Dr. Andres Contreras, associate professor for the Department of Large Animal Clinical Sciences in MSU's College of Veterinary Medicine said dairy producers do not have the means to prevent or cure diseases related to postpartum dairy cattle.


Through the study, researchers will find out if cattle's endocannabinoid system responds in a similar way to humans – revealing new nutritional and pharmalogical targets to prevent future diseases to postpartum cattle.


Joining Dr. Contreras is Dr. Maya Zachut of the Institute of Animal Science at the Agriculture Research Organization, Volcani Center in Israel and Dr. Joseph Tam, director of the Multidisciplinary Center for Cannabinoid Research at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.


Researchers will begin the three-year study on the endocannabinoid system in the physiological adaptions of adipose tissue, in relation to the onset of lactation in dairy cattle. From there, the findings will serve as the foundation to develop new ideas in relieving metabolic stress in postpartum dairy cattle.