Mannan oligosaccharide (mos) — a carbohydrate that binds bacteria — improved immune function in close-up dry cows and enhanced the transfer of rotavirus antibodies to their calves, according to research in the February Journal of Dairy Science.

Researchers at the University of Kentucky vaccinated cows against rotavirus at four weeks and again at two weeks before expected calving. About half of the cows also received MOS supplementation during the last three weeks before calving.

At calving, the supplemented cows and their calves had higher blood-serum rotavirus neutralization titers -— an indication of enhanced response to immunization against rotavirus — than non-supplemented cows and calves. The calves whose mothers received MOS also had higher serum-protein concentrations — another indicator of better immunity.