Astragalus root extract improved average daily gain, immunity, antioxidant status and ruminal microbiota of early weaned yak calves

Haiyan Wei, Luming Ding, Xianju Wang, Qi Yan, Cuixia Jiang, Changsheng Hu, Guowen Wang, Yuqing Zhou, Zalmen Henkin, Abraham Allan Degen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Scopus citations


BACKGROUND: Early weaning in yak calves is being attempted to improve yak reproduction rate. However, this has to be done with caution because of the high mortality rate of calves due to the lack of nutrients and the harsh environmental conditions. Twenty-four weaned male yak calves were used in a 60 day feeding trial in which astragalus root extract (ARE) was supplemented. They were assigned randomly to one of four dietary treatments (n = six per treatment) that differed in ARE level: 0 g kg−1 (control), ARE0; 20 g kg−1, ARE20; 50 g kg−1, ARE50; and 80 g kg−1 dry matter intake (DMI), ARE80. RESULTS: Final bodyweight and average daily gain (ADG) were significantly higher and the DMI/ADG ratio was significantly lower in calves with ARE supplementation than control (ARE0) calves. Ruminal concentrations of acetate and propionate and serum concentration of superoxide dismutase in ARE80 calves were higher than in the other groups and serum concentration of insulin was higher in ARE80 calves than in ARE20 calves. Serum immunoglobulin G (IgG) and interleukin-2 (IL-2) concentrations in ARE-fed calves were higher than in controls. Serum tumor necrosis factor (TNF-α) concentration was higher in ARE50 and ARE80 groups than ARE0 calves and serum interleukin-6 (IL-6) concentration was higher in ARE80 than in ARE0 calves. Serum immunoglobulin A (IgA), IgG and immunoglobulin M (IgM) concentrations increased with age in ARE-fed calves. ARE supplementation increased the abundance of fiber degrading bacteria. CONCLUSION: ARE at a dosage of 5% to 8% DMI can be supplemented to early weaned yak calves to improve growth performance, antioxidant capacity and immunity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)82-90
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of the Science of Food and Agriculture
Issue number1
StatePublished - 15 Jan 2021


  • antioxidant status
  • astragalus root extract
  • average daily gain
  • early weaned yak calves
  • immunity responses
  • ruminal microbiota

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Food Science
  • Agronomy and Crop Science
  • Nutrition and Dietetics


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