Engormix/Dairy Cattle/Technical articles

Effects of supplementation with ruminally-protected choline on performance of cows

Published on: 9/12/2022
Author/s : Marcos Zenobi, Ph.D. Technical Services Manager Balchem. Previously posted on FEED & ADDITIVE MAGAZINE, September 2022
Summary

“Choline is an essential nutrient that enables cows to utilize the fat (NEFA) mobilized from body stores. The production of NEFA is the cows’ natural way of managing negative energy balance during the early stages of lactation and is a primary source of energy for many functions. A healthy and properly functioning liver allows cows to transition smoothly, resulting in elevated peak milk and a more persistent lactation curve for maximum productivity. University of Florida study evaluated the impact of feeding ReaShure® Precision Release Choline to cows during the transition period on milk production over the entire lactation.”

 

This study is consistent with previous peerreviewed ReaShure research that demonstrated improvements in health and production parameters during and immediately following the transition period. However, this is the first study to measure the impact of feeding ReaShure on milk production over the entire lactation.

Cows receiving ReaShure during the transition period (21 days prepartum to 21 days postpartum) produced more milk per day over the 40-week lactation, had a lower prevalence of subclinical milk fever, showed improvements in first service conception rates, produced more immunoglobulin G in the colostrum and their heifer calves grew significantly faster through one year of age.

INTRODUCTION
Balchem now manufactures a high-quality, ruminally protected choline product called ReaShure®-XC Rumen Protected Choline, the next generation of ReaShure which provides bioavailable choline in a more concentrated product.
Choline is an essential nutrient that enables cows to utilize the fat (NEFA) mobilized from body stores. The production of NEFA is the cows’ natural way of managing negative energy balance during the early stages of lactation and is a primary source of energy for many functions. A healthy and properly functioning liver allows cows to transition smoothly, resulting in elevated peak milk and a more persistent lactation curve for maximum productivity. Issues occur when the cow’s liver cannot effectively process all the NEFA being mobilized. This can adversely affect liver function, leading to increased ketones in the blood (ketosis). Ketosis can negatively affect feed intake and further exacerbate negative energy balance, leading to even more NEFA mobilization.
One aspect of this University of Florida study evaluated the impact of feeding ReaShure® Precision Release Choline to cows during the transition period on milk production over the entire lactation. The study also tracked cow health, reproduction, calf performance and colostrum quality.
EXPERIMENTAL DESIGN
Ninety-three multiparous Holstein cows were assigned to one of four treatments at dry off. Treatments were dry cow diets that were formulated for either maintenance energy (1,40 Mcal NEL/kg) or high energy (1,63 Mcal NEL/kg) and then either with or without 12,9 gr/day/ cow of choline ion in a rumen protected form for approximately 21 days prepartum through 21 days postpartum. After calving all cows received the same lactation diet and individual dry matter intakes and milk production was measured through 15 and 40 weeks of lactation respectively.
Figure 1. Effect of feeding Reashure® Precision Release Choline during transition on milk production over 40 weeks
Figure 1. Effect of feeding Reashure® Precision Release Choline during transition on milk production over 40 weeks
Figure 1. Effect of feeding Reashure® Precision Release Choline during transition on milk production over 40 weeks
RESULTS
Increased Milk and Components over the 40- Week Lactation
Cows fed ReaShure during the transition period produced an average of 2,1 kg more milk per day (P = 0.08) over the first 40-weeks postpartum (Figure 1). This calculates to an additional 588 kg during the first 40 weeks of lactation. If we extrapolate these results over a 305-day lactation, the outcome would be an additional 640,50 kg of milk per cow per year. Percent fat and protein were not statistically impacted for the ReaShurefed cows. But both fat, 1,56 vs 1,64 kg/day (P = 0.09) and protein, 1,21 vs. 1,27 kg/day (P = 0.07) yield increased as a result of the increased milk production seen in the ReaShure-fed cows. It is also of interest to note that cows (n = 76) considered to have non-excessive body condition at calving (BCS ≤ 3.5) produced on average 2,7 kg more milk per day (P = 0.09) when fed ReaShure. This simply shows that cows of normal body condition respond quite well to ReaShure.
ReaShure and Health
The authors noted in this study that there were not enough animals to effectively evaluate the effect of ReaShure on the incidence of diseases. Previous studies showed significant differences in clinical and subclinical ketosis but no differences were seen in this study. One very interesting and unexpected outcome in this study was a reduction (P < 0.01) in the prevalence of subclinical hypocalcemia (25.5 and 10.5%) as determined by total plasma calcium levels below 8.0 mg/100 ml at 0, 1, 3 or 7 days-in-milk. The mode of action for this is unclear at this time and will be studied in subsequent research trials.
Higher Quality Colostrum
Colostrum volumes were statistically the same (8,7 vs. 9,4 kg for the control and ReaShure fed cows, respectively). However, the ReaShure fed cows produced significantly (P = 0.03) more Immunoglobulin G per liter of colostrum (68.2 vs. 86.9 g/L, Figure 2). This could have practical implications for calf health.
Figure 2. Effect of feeding ReaShure prepartum on colostrum quantity and quality
Figure 2. Effect of feeding ReaShure prepartum on colostrum quantity and quality
Figure 3. Effect of feeding ReaShure during transition on reproduction
Figure 3. Effect of feeding ReaShure during transition on reproduction
Improved Reproduction
Pregnancies from first service were higher (P = 0.09) for cows fed ReaShure as compared to cows that were not (41.3 vs. 23.6%, Figure 3). These results emphasize the importance of having an excellent transition period.
Calf Performance
Researchers in this study followed the performance of heifer calves out to one year of age. Heifers born to the cows receiving ReaShure during the closeup dry period tended to be slightly smaller at birth than calves from control cows (Table 1). However, by 50 weeks of age heifers from cows fed ReaShure were significantly larger (P = 0.05) than those from cows not fed ReaShure during the close-up dry period. Average daily gain of heifers whose dam was fed ReaShure during the close-up dry period was 0,85 kg per day which was 40 gr per day faster than heifers from dams not fed ReaShure (P = 0.06).
Table 1. Effect of in utero exposure to ReaShure on calf performance
Table 1. Effect of in utero exposure to ReaShure on calf performance
 
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