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The latest FAD – Faecal antibody detection in cattle. Protocol and results from three UK beef farms naturally infected with gastrointestinal nematodes

  • A. S. Cooke (a1) (a2), K. A. Watt (a3), E. R. Morgan (a2) (a4) and J. A. J. Dungait (a1)


Antibodies at gastrointestinal mucosal membranes play a vital role in immunological protection against a range of pathogens, including helminths. Gastrointestinal health is central to efficient livestock production, and such infections cause significant losses. Fecal samples were taken from 114 cattle, across three beef farms, with matched blood samples taken from 22 of those animals. To achieve fecal antibody detection, a novel fecal supernatant was extracted. Fecal supernatant and serum samples were then analysed, using adapted enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay protocols, for levels of total immunoglobulin (Ig)A, IgG, IgM, and Teladorsagia circumcincta-specific IgA, IgG, IgM and IgE (in the absence of reagents for cattle-specific nematode species). Fecal nematode egg counts were conducted on all fecal samples. Assays performed successfully and showed that IgA was the predominant antibody in fecal samples, whereas IgG was predominant in serum. Total IgA in feces and serum correlated within individuals (0.581, P = 0.005), but other Ig types did not. Results support the hypothesis that the tested protocols are an effective method for the non-invasive assessment of cattle immunology. The method could be used as part of animal health assessments, although further work is required to interpret the relationship between results and levels of infection and immunity.

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This is an Open Access article, distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution licence (, which permits unrestricted re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Corresponding author

Author for correspondence: A. S. Cooke, E-mail:


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