The Protective Properties of Milk and Colostrum in Non-Human Species

  • Ian Tizard
Part of the Advances in Nutritional Research book series (ANUR, volume 10)


Newborn mammals emerge from the clean, stable and sterile uterus into a world where they are immediately exposed to an enormous variety of microorganisms. If they are to survive, newborns therefore must be able to control microbial invasion. The immune system, however, may not be ready for this defensive role. In mammals with a short gestation period such as the marsupials, the immune system may not have developed fully. In mammals with a long gestation period such as the domestic herbivores, although the immune system is structurally complete at birth, it cannot function fully for several weeks. The complete development of immune capability depends on antigenic stimulation. The development of adequate numbers of antigen-sensitive lymphocytes depends on clonal selection and antigen-driven cell multiplication. The first immune responses mounted by a newborn animal must be primary responses with a prolonged lag period and low concentrations of antibodies produced. Thus newborn mammals are highly vulnerable to microbial invasion for the first few weeks of life and unless immunological assistance is provided, they may be killed by microorganisms that present little threat to an adult. This “immunological assistance” is provided by antibodies and other proteins transferred from the mother to her offspring through the placenta and/or by antibodies and lymphocytes transferred through colostrum and milk.


Passive Immunity Passive Transfer Bovine Colostrum Tammar Wallaby Neonatal Calf 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2001

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ian Tizard
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Veterinary PathobiologyTexas A&M UniversityUSA

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