Direct-fed microbials (DFM) can be helpful for transition cows, says Peng Ji with the Miner Agricultural Research Institute in Chazy, N.Y.

In the January 2012 Miner Farm Report, Ji provides several points to consider before feeding a DFM product to transition cows:

• Ask for information about the DFM’s composition, including strains of bacteria and recommended dosage.
• Find out if the DFM was evaluated by controlled research studies.
• Monensin targets gram positive bacteria, so be aware of a potential loss in effectiveness of the DFM if you are using monensin.
• When feeding a DFM be sure to acknowledge the difference in starch content between your close-up diet and lactation diet.
• Some DFM bacteria are intolerant to low pH, so be aware of potential losses when mixing DFM products with low pH silage.