Student Research Projects

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.


Biological Sciences


Dairy calves are born with a naive immune system, and must obtain passive immunity through ingestion of colostrum. Colostrum provides the newborn with antimicrobial proteins called immunoglobulins, such as immunoglobulin G (IgG), that protect the calf for the first few weeks of life. Calves that receive good quality colostrum (>50 g/L of IgG) are more likely to survive to adulthood. Niacin is a vasodilator that may increase blood flow to the mammary gland during production of colostrum in the mother. This experiment investigated the effect of niacin supplementation at a rate of 48 g/cow/day for 3 weeks before calving on the IgG content of colostrum. Colostrum samples were collected from 3 participating farms in New Hampshire. All samples were frozen for later analysis with radioimmunodiffusion assay plates. The mean IgG concentration of the niacin treatment (n=30) was 89.41 g/L (± 25.08). The mean IgG concentration of the control treatment (n=6) was 91.07 g/L (± 15.46). Due to limited sample numbers, further research is needed to determine any effect of treatment. This preliminary data is being used to guide further research on this subject. To our knowledge, no other research has been done to date on this subject.

Date of Publication or Presentation

Spring 5-15-2014

Project Type

Undergraduate Research Project

College or School


First Advisor

Peter Erickson