Importance of Balanced Nutrients During Transition Period of Dairy Cattle

By Dr. Sanket Wakchaure

Nutritionist, Trouw Nutrition India


The transition period which is between 3 weeks before and 3 weeks after parturition of dairy cattle is characterized by several metabolic, endocrine, and physiologicaladjustments coupled with reduced feed intake. Requirement of nutrient need to be satisfiedwith optimal level in the diet to prevent liver dysfunction, negative energy balance, hypocalcemia, oxidative stress which makes transition cow prone to infectious disorders, negatively impacting reproductive health and milk production. Therefore, standard farm managemental practices with optimum balanced ration in transition period of cow is crucial to determine the performance of cow in lactation phase as well as health and growth of calves.

Maxcare is a balanced mix of vitamins, minerals, feed supplements and additives having essential nutrient like rumen protected choline and amino acids, Anionic salts, yeast culture, biotin, Niacin, dietary antioxidant, betaine, chelated minerals in optimal levels for healthy transition period of dairy cattle. Maxcareensuresblending of all these nutrients in uniform manner which may be a challenge for small scale feed millers and farmers during feed production. It is customized, safe, and value-added solution for dairy farmers.

Transition period

Homeostasis of cow changes from the dry period to milking in transition period.Higher demand of energy, glucose, amino acid,and calcium by mammary gland after calving for the colostrum synthesis and milk coupled with reduced feed intake force the transition cows to undergo negative energy balance and micronutrient deficienciesmaking cow prone to lose bodyweight in first trimester of lactation.Higher demand of nutrient shortly after parturition need to be fulfilled by optimal diet both before and after parturition for better milk production.

Rise in the hepatic gluconeogenesis and fall in glucose oxidation is the initial response from cow to meet the glucose demand.Similarly, the negative energy balance stimulates cows to mobilize body fat in the form of non-esterified fatty acids (NEFA) and subsequent accumulation of beta-hydroxybutyric acid (BHBA) in the bloodto satisfy energy requirement in early lactation. Although these metabolic changes are normal adaptive process in high yielding cows, when a cow fails to adapt to this metabolic challenge, several metabolic disorders such as fatty liver, ketosis, retained placenta, hypocalcemiaand clinical mastitis occurs which makes cow more susceptible to infectious disorders and affect the productive and reproductive efficiency beyond the transition period.Feeding Management in transition period decides calf health, milk production, and reproductive success of the dairy cow.

Fig-1: Metabolic imbalance during transition period of dairy cow

Therefore, a smooth transition is important for minimizing health problems and optimizing productivity and profitability for the forthcoming lactation. Early identification of these diseases is useful to overcome future production losses.

3. Specific balanced Feed additives/premixes in the form of Maxcare

3.1 Rumen Protected Choline and amino acids –

Choline is not a vitamin; however, it is an essential nutrient. choline has multi-functional role in animal production, reproduction, and health. Yet very little dietary choline escapes ruminal degradation: therefore, rumen-protected form of choline need to be added in the diet. The use of rumen-protected choline is a preventive measure for the fatty liver syndrome and ketosis.Rumen protected choline in transition cow nutrition is important for its effect on triglyceride transfer from the liver, especially in early lactation.Its role in minimizing fatty liver formation, improving nerve transmission, normal Neuromuscular signaling, increase in methionine availability and serving as a methyl donor is well established.

During the early lactation period after parturition, a negative protein balance cause mobilization of muscle tissue to satisfy the requirement of mammary glands for milk protein synthesis. Level of muscle mobilization can assist in determining whether the requirements of the cow are being met by the amino acid profile provided through feed and amino acids.milk protein & milk yield increases when optimal amount of methionine and lysine were consumed by cows during the transition period.

3.2 Anionic Salts and Products

To reduce the incidents of clinical and subclinical hypocalcemia, use of anionic salt (decreasing the dietary cation–anion difference for last 3 to 4 week of gestation) makes ration more acidic which increases absorption of dietary calcium and stimulates mobilization of bone calcium due to improvement in parathyroid hormone receptor sites. It helps to improve Ca homeostasis and meet increased demand of Ca caused by the calcium drain due to milk synthesis.The common recommendation is to add anionic salts until the DCAD value is −100 to −150 mEq/kg of dietary DM

The success of anAnionic salt (DCAD program) can be determined by monitoring urinary pH. In HFand Jerseys cows, urinary pH values should be between 6.2 to 6.8and 5.8 to 6.3 respectively. If the urine fails to be acidified or urine pH is over 7, then the benefit of anionic products gets reduced, in this case evaluation of inclusion rate of anionic salts in the diet is required to make it adequate.

3.3 Yeast Culture

Supplementation of yeast as a microbial feed additive helps to increase feed palatability, enhances rumen microbial protein synthesis due to stimulation of rumen microbe, provides vitamins and minerals to fiber degrading microbes, increases fiber digestion rate and digestion flow rate and improves bacterial count & VFA in the rumen liquor, which decreases the acetic-propionic acid ratio, primarily due to increased propionic acid production andbetter ruminal digestion and metabolism. It also increases the efficiency of feed conversion and weight gain,improves dairy animal milk production and protected young animals fromenteropathic disorders such as diarrhea by inhibiting coliform bacteria colonization in the intestine. Early lactation appears to be an optimum time to feed yeast culture to stabilize the rumen environment as cows are shifted from dry cows to high-energy diets.

3.4 Biotin and Niacin

Feeding high concentrate diets is common during the periparturient and early lactation periods; However, this high concentrate diet reduces Biotin synthesis. Supplementation of biotin have beneficial effect on hoof health, milk production, protein yield, lactose yield and dry matter intake.Biotin may increase milk yield through increased glucose production and/or increased fiber digestibility.

Niacin supplementation helps to maintain adequate plasma glucose homeostasis and inhibits excessive fat mobilization of transition dairy cow. Niacin reduces non-esterified fatty acid (NEFA) and ß-hydroxybutyric acid (BHBA) level in the blood plasma ofcows by increasing the glucose levels in the serum. In some cases, preventing of ketosis can be done by supplementation of niacin along with a glycogenic precursor such as propylene glycol or sodium propionate.

3.5 Dietary Antioxidants

Oxidative stress is very common in high yielding dairy cows due to increased level of pro-oxidant in the body which negatively impact on fertility and performance of the cow. Antioxidant requirements are higher in transition period which can be satisfied by supplementation of Vitamin E & beta carotene for sustainable milk production. Vitamin E increases functional efficiency of neutrophils by protecting them from oxidative damage following intracellular killing of ingested bacteria. Similarly, beta-carotene which is a precursor of Vitamin A, also serves as an antioxidant and increases ovulation rate at the first estrus postpartum.

Vitamin requirement is more for colostrum synthesis and considerable number of vitamins are taken from the body reserves of dairy cows. The concentration of vitamins are indirect parameters for colostralimmunity. Higher mortality of calves in herds can be observed with lower level of Vitamin E and beta carotene in the serum of calves of 1-7 days of age.

3.6 Betaine

Betaine serves as a methyl donor and an organic osmolyte, which plays crucial role in growth, lactation, protein synthesis, andfat metabolism. it’s organic osmolyte function helps to decrease dehydration, stabilize protein structure,and protects enzyme function when cells are under osmotic stress. betaine alters rumen fermentation and enhances nutrient digestibility which is very important in transition period of cow due to reduced dry matter intake.

3.7 Chelated Mineral

Minerals are crucial for metabolic functions in transition period of cow which helps to support growth & development, enzyme activities, immune functions, health & the reproductive performance. Supplementation of adequate quantity of minerals is critical because large number of feed ingredient used in feed are not having enough mineral composition & bioavailability to recure from the mineral losses during milk production, growth as well as excretion. Organic minerals have positive impact mainly due to higher bioavailability than inorganic sources when supplemented at the same level.

4. Maxcare

Maxcare is a balanced mix of vitamins, minerals, feed supplements and additives are required to meet the nutritional requirements of transitional cow for efficient performance and prevention of metabolic disorders. It is a unique customized solution, that provides standard micro-ingredients as per animals’need at different stages and can be customizedas per specific needs ormanagemental practices and ingredients used in feed. It’s a convenient, value-added solution which makes feed formulation and feed production more feasible for dairy farmers that guarantees assured performance.

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