Magnesium butyrate in dry cow nutrition for improving rumen development and feed intake during lactation start-up.
High-yielding dairy cows need to be maintained at the highest feeding standards to ensure high milk production and optimal health. During the dry period, the feed intake is lowered and the metabolism is slowed down. This gives the cow the opportunity to prepare for the next lactation. However starting up the next lactation without problems, can be quite a challenge.
The start of lactation and negative energy balance
At the start of the lactation, the energy requirements for milk production exceed the dietary energy intake from the feed. As feed intake is still low, the cow enters a state of negative energy balance. The cow will use stored body fat as a source of energy, rapidly losing body weight and putting stress on organs such as the liver, associated with (subclinical) ketosis. Being in a negative energy balance can cause reduced milk yields, lower fertility and increase the risk of mastitis.
Dairy cow rations – challenges at the start of lactation
To minimize this state of negative energy balance, high energy feeds such as grains and concentrates are often fed to freshly calved dairy cattle. This readily improves the energy intake, resulting in better performance of the dairy cow. However, the transition from a low energy dry cow diet to a high energy lactation diet is challenging. When concentrates are fed in great amounts, the cow can suffer from rumen acidosis. This can depress the feed intake and worsen the problems associated with a state of negative energy balance.
Rumen acidosis in dairy cows
Rumen acidosis in dairy cows is primarily caused by large amounts of volatile fatty acids (VFA) that are produced in the rumen. As quickly fermentable feeds such as concentrates are fed, the micro-organisms inside the rumen start to grow and proliferate rapidly. The end-products of this fermentation include volatile fatty acids such as acetic acid, propionic acid and butyric acid. These VFA are a major source of energy for the cow and can be used to sustain milk production. However, if the production rate of VFA exceeds the absorption rate, the build-up of VFA in the rumen will result in rumen acidosis.
Absorption capacity of volatile fatty acids
The absorption rate of VFA is determined by the level of development of the rumen epithelial wall and the rumen papillae. The rumen of the cow needs to be properly developed to ensure maximum VFA absorption. During the dry period, the rumen development slows down due to the lowered feed intake that is needed to give the cow a proper recovery period from the previous lactation. At the start of the new lactation, the rumen is not yet prepared to absorb great amounts of VFA, resulting in increased risks of rumen acidosis when concentrates are fed.
Rumen development before lactation
The development of the rumen is stimulated by butyric acid, or butyrate. The butyrate available in the rumen induces growth in the rumen papillae, thereby increasing the surface area of the rumen epithelial wall. A greater surface area increases the absorption capacity of VFA, ensuring optimal energy intake for the dairy cow from quickly fermentable feeds such as concentrates.
As a result of low natural butyrate production in the dairy cow during the dry period, the rumen development is poor. Supplementing with magnesium butyrate during this transition period will support the much needed growth of the rumen, enabling higher feed intake and less risk of rumen acidosis during lactation start-up.
The dietary magnesium in Rumen-Ready has a high bioavailability, ensuring sufficient uptake of this important mineral. This will support performance and health, by sustaining correct mineral balance and muscle function.
Rumen-Ready prepares the rumen for the start of the new lactation. The magnesium butyrate in Rumen-Ready enables dairy cows to maintain a high level of (concentrate) feed intake.
An optimal feed intake at the start of the lactation will decrease the risks of a negative energy balance and all associated problems, resulting in higher milk yields and healthier dairy cows.