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CHALLENGE with infectious disease is a constant threat to the health and well-being of equine neonates. Therefore, having a comprehensive understanding of the endogenous mechanisms that aid in maintaining health in young foals is essential for the equine clinician. A lack of adequate antibody ingestion results in the failure of passive transfer, a primary risk factor for the development of neonatal sepsis (Robinson and others 1993). The ingestion of colostral constituents, such as cytokine proteins as well as antibody molecules, has been demonstrated to aid immune protection in other species. In addition, the value of having an all-round understanding of equine colostral constituents relates to the fact that, once essential protective immune components have been identified, therapeutic management of septic or at-risk individuals can incorporate necessary constituents for the restoration of neonatal health and protection from infectious challenge.
In a paper summarised on p 51 of this week's Veterinary Record, Secor and others (2011) report an investigation aimed at determining colostral cytokine constituents that help in maintaining health and wellbeing when consumed by foals. In particular, the investigators aimed to determine the level of colostral …