Direct-fed microbials benefit transition cows

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Research reported in the January issue of the Journal of Dairy Science shows that transition cows fed direct-fed microbials ate more feed and produced more milk.

In the study, researchers compared four groups of transition cows: those fed DFMs before and after calving, those fed DFMs before calving only, those fed DFMs after calving only, and non-supplemented cows.

The cows were supplemented with a direct-fed microbial product containing two specific strains of bacteria — Enterococcus faecium — and yeast beginning at 21 days prepartum through 70 days postpartum. Other than the DFM supplementation, all of the cows received the same prepartum ration and lactating ration.

The researchers measured dry matter intake, milk production, percent milk fat, percent protein, and several blood parameters including glucose and insulin levels. Following is a summary of some of their key findings:

  • During the first seven days in milk, cows fed DFMs both pre- and postpartum ate 5.3 more pounds of feed per day than non-supplemented cows.
  • During days eight through 21 in milk, cows fed DFMs both pre- and postpartum ate 6.2 more pounds of feed per day than non-supplemented cows.
  • During the first seven days in milk, cows fed DFMs both pre- and postpartum produced 5.1 more pounds of milk per day than non-supplemented cows.
  • During days eight through 21 in milk, cows fed DFMs both pre- and postpartum produced 3.5 more pounds of milk per day than non-supplemented cows.
  • During days 22 through 70 days in milk, cows fed DFMs both pre- and postpartum produced 2 pounds more milk per day than non-supplemented cows.
  • During days 22 through 70 in milk, cows fed DFMs both pre- and postpartum had a milk protein percent of 3.27 compared to 3.01 percent for non-supplemented cows.
  • During days 22 through 70 in milk, cows fed DFMs both pre- and postpartum had a milk fat percent of 3.47 compared to 3.36 percent for non-supplemented cows.
  • Cows fed DFMs both pre- and postpartum had better metabolic profiles and increased rumen pH and therefore less subclinical acidosis than non-supplemented cows.

For a comparison of cow performance with the other treatment groups — those fed DFMs only prepartum and those fed DFMs only postpartum — see the chart below.

The research was conducted by Elliott Block, McGill University, Quebec, Canada in conjunction with Chr. Hansen BioSystems, Milwaukee, Wis.

Variable

No DFMs

DFMs pre- & postpartum

DFMs prepartum only

DFMs postparum only

Dry matter intake, lbs/day

       

     Days 1-7 in milk

28.44

33.73

30.42

31.08

     Days 8-21 in milk

40.56

46.74

42.12

44.97

     Days 22-70 in milk

54.23

55.34

54.45

55.56

Milk yield, lbs/day

       

     Days 1-7 in milk

48.72

53.79

50.93

51.81

     Days 8-21 in milk

76.06

79.59

77.38

78.26

     Days 22-70 in milk

106.26

108.25

107.8

109.13

Milk fat percent

       

     Days 1-7 in milk

4.23

4.63

4.53

4.58

     Days 8-21 in milk

3.41

3.53

3.51

3.5

     Days 22-70 in milk

3.36

3.47

3.42

3.39

Milk protein percent

       

     Days 1-7 in milk

3.98

4.01

4.0

3.99

     Days 8-21 in milk

3.21

3.35

3.3

3.36

     Days 22-70 in milk

3.01

3.27

3.19

3.2


 



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