An ongoing project conducted on 427 dairies throughout the United States during the past six years has demonstrated the importance of a well-functioning immune system to support dairy cattle health and milk production.
The project, known as the Immunity Challenge, conducted by Prince Agri Products, Inc., enables dairy owners, veterinarians and feed consulting professionals to evaluate the benefits of including an immune-supporting nutritional supplement in a best practices nutritional program for dry and lactating cows.
“Healthy cows in general produce more milk, rebreed sooner and have longer, more productive life spans,” said Jim Chapman, Ph.D., a Prince Agri Products dairy technical manager who leads the study. “The modern day dairy cow, because of the physical and metabolic demands associated with high milk production, may be predisposed to opportunistic diseases or infections, resulting in reduced time spent in profitable milk production.”
The study utilizes OmniGen-AF, a nutritional supplement from Prince Agri Products that can help support a cow’s natural immune function. A well-functioning immune system is vital to maintaining overall cow health. The Immunity Challenge involves adding the supplement to cow diets for 90 days, then measuring changes in their health and milk production as compared to the 90-day period prior to adding the nutritional supplement.
The project has included herd sizes ranging from 38 to 6,700 milking cows, with a total of 273,707 cows in the project. Results from 2007 through 2012 included:
- Reduced disease and other health events. There were 13.6 percent fewer mastitis cases per month, a 20.0 percent reduction in retained fetal membrane cases as a percentage of fresh cows, a 22.6 percent reduction in metritis cases as a percentage of fresh cows, a 16.7 percent reduction in cows delivered to the hospital pen and a 23.2 percent reduction in total herd death loss.
- Lower somatic cell count (SCC). Bulk tank SCC averages were tracked through the 90-day feeding period. A total of 72.6 percent of the herds summarized reported a drop in bulk tank SCC of just over 50,000. Sixty-three percent of the herds were 300,000 SCC or lower, prior to starting the program.
- Increased milk production. The research also showed a positive impact on pounds of milk produced, although that was not a focus of the study.
“Proper management and good nutrition can help support a cow’s natural immune system which in turn can reduce the occurrence of disease, lower treatment costs and improve milk quality and milk production,” Dr. Chapman said, in summarizing the findings.