Leonel Leal, Ruminant Researcher at Trouw Nutrition R & D, was interviewed after he addressed the audience during the symposium which marked the official opening of Trouw Nutrition's new Calf & Beef Research Facility in the Netherlands last April.
In his interview, he spoke about the effects that pre-weaning calf nutrition can have on gene expression, metabolism and future productivity, as well as an ongoing longitudinal study which will focus beyond just the pre-weaning phase, and on metabolism and metabolomics over the entirety of lifetime production.
When asked if differences in gene expression and overall metabolism at weaning, due to higher planes of nutrition, would be reflected in the lifetime productivity of dairy cows, Mr. Leal underscored the fact that pre-weaning nutrition can and does have a tremendous effect on gene expression profiles which, in turn, can impact metabolism. He pointed out that not only has recent research shown significant changes in body weight and organ development, but also that some changes, such as those his own research indicated with pancreatic tissue development, may have long-lasting effects on the metabolism, well-being and the lifetime productivity of cows.
In his presentation earlier that day Mr. Leal focused mainly on data surrounding upping the level of nutrition for pre-weaned calves. And, indeed, the data for pre-weaned calves does show just how large differences based on levels of nutritional input can be, in a very short period of time. However, in his interview he discussed an ongoing longitudinal study in which he and his research team will focus not on gene expression or gene expression profiles, but will instead focus on the overall metabolism and metabolomics of heifers. And, Mr. Leal's team will be doing this not just for a finite period of time, such as during the pre-weaning phase, or post weaning up to calving, but for the entire lifetime production of the animals.
The kind of longitudinal study Mr. Leal and his team are embarking on is exactly the type of research trumpeted by Trouw Nutrition's focus on science and innovation.