CIEL | Project: ImmunIGy – A novel pen-side test for checking calf immune status

Genetics | Reproduction | Behaviour | Nutrition | Health & Welfare | Productivity | Food Integrity | Environmental Impact

Lead partner: Synergy Farm Health Limited
Consortium partners: University of Nottingham, SomaBioScience, CIEL.


Serum concentration of immunoglobulin G (IgG) in neonatal calves is a direct marker of the level of passive transfer of maternal antibody from colostrum. There is substantial evidence that successful passive transfer is associated with decreased morbidity and mortality rates, improved growth rates, feed conversion and lifetime productive capacity, whether the calf is destined to produce milk or enter the beef supply chain. As such, successful passive transfer is a key driver of economic and environmental efficiency on both dairy and beef farms rearing calves sourced from dairy units.

ImmunIGy is a novel pen-side diagnostic test for measuring IgG in calves. The simple to use lateral flow test can be carried out by the farmer and results are available in the space of a few minutes, increasing production efficiency through supply chain feedback and improved management.

Scope and impact

The project seeks to confirm that the output of the ImmunIGy test correlates with the current gold standard for measuring IgG, which will confirm its value for use in calves less than a week of age.

Research will also determine if the measurement of IgG at collection centres for beef calves from the dairy herd can be used to predict future performance, both on its own and when used to improve the function of a pre-existing calf algorithm. Such testing can drive improved efficiency of beef production via direct feedback to farms supplying calves with insufficient maternal immunity, pricing differentials and through bespoke management of calves according to their performance prediction.

The project team plan to incorporate the algorithm into an App which will allow calf rearers to test calves on entry, enter the data to predict calf performance and put in place differential management practices, such as separate groups or a different threshold of disease prevalence before implementing antibiotic therapy.

As part of the project, participating farmers will be trained in the use of the test, the App and the data that they need to provide whilst receiving feedback on its usability.

The project is funded by Innovate UK as part of Defra’s Farming Innovation Programme, delivered by Innovate UK’s Transforming Food Production challenge.

For more information, please contact CIEL Project Manager James Burchell via the enquiry form.

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