Energy is Essential in Delivering Milk and for a Well-Functioning Immune System
According official data from the USDA, milk production per cow has increased 10% over the last 10 years. Genetic selection has taken place in dairy cattle, resulting in higher milk yields than ever before. However, along with higher productions comes bigger challenges. The transition from a dry cow to a lactating cow requires a lot of energy from the high-producing dairy cow (Santos et al., 2012). Negative energy balance (NEB) happens when the energy requirement in the first weeks after calving exceeds the energy intake through the feed. Negative Energy Balance can lead to health challenges and reduced immune function. This can lead to lower milk yield and lower fertility. AHV’s products support the cow to get through this tough period.
Energy intake versus energy consumption
Just before calving, dairy cows already experience a shortage in energy. This is normal because they do not take in enough feed to provide the energy needed for the starting milk production. Negative Energy Balance (NEB) is experienced by every cow at the beginning of lactation. A dairy cow can overcome a period of moderate energy deficiency without any problems. When the energy requirement is drastically increased or when energy intake decreases, this can result in severe energy deficiencies and a disturbed metabolism.
The calving process is a drastic moment for the cow. Not only the labor itself is demanding, but also the relocation to the calving shed, the high milk production and the change from a dry cow ration to a lactation ration. A stressful environment can lead to both increased energy requirements and reduced energy intake. At the end of gestation, the calf’s growth increases the most, accompanied by a high increase in energy requirements. Due to the growing calf, more space is taken up by the uterus, causing the cow to absorb less dry matter just before calving. In addition, the cow has a reduced appetite around calving, and the diet can only partially meet its energy needs (Walsh Et al., 2011).
With the start of milk production, the demand for glucose for the udder increases to meet the daily milk yield. For a cow producing 88 pounds (40kg) of milk per day, the supply of glucose to the udder should be 6.6 pounds (3kg) per day (Zhao et al., 2007). Increased milk production leads to increased nutrient demand (Weber et al., 2013). Energy consumption for body processes and lactation in the first weeks after calving exceeds energy intake through the feed.
A cow can stay ahead of these challenges by administering AHV Booster Bolus on day ±14 before and 7 days after calving in combination with the AHV Extra Bolus . The AHV Booster Bolus increases the energy intake through easily digestible energy sources and promotes optimal utilization. In addition, AHV Booster Bolus supports liver health. AHV Extra Bolus also improves udder health and ensures that the udder can start a new lactation all cleaned up from harmful bacteria that may cause challenges during the next cycle.
Energy intake limiting factor in milk production
Energy intake is the main limiting factor in milk production in high-producing dairy cows and is determined by dietary net energy and dry matter intake (DMI). The decreased dry matter intake around calving is only temporary (Bossaert et al., 2008). The cow’s appetite will increase few weeks after calving, partly due to the decreasing insulin concentration. However, the increase in dry matter intake falls short of increasing energy requirements. The lactation peak occurs between the 4th and 8th week after calving, while dry matter intake only increases between 8 and 22 weeks after calving (Bossaert et al., 2008).
It is essential to offer cows the right proactive and reactive healthcare programs to get through this demanding period in the best possible way. The AHV Booster range allows you to provide the animal with energy to meet these needs. The AHV Booster Bolus stimulates the cow to use energy from the ration more efficiently. Drenching with the AHV Booster Powder is the best solution when there is a need for a lot of quick energy.
NEB and its effect on the immune system
Cows with a more significant negative energy balance have a reduction of specific immune functions (Hammon et al., 2006; Le Blanc, 2008). The decrease in DMI and calcium concentration around labor combined with NEB and the loss of minerals or vitamins at the start of lactation results in a reduced immune function. This can lead to serious health challenges (Santos et al., 2012).
Most importantly, if you can intervene in energy levels in time, you will help the cow achieve optimal performance. When a cow has good energy levels, this will positively contribute to milk production, fertility, immunity and successful calving. If the cow stays healthy, she will continue to produce enough milk in a healthy body, which will give you, the farmer, peace of mind.
Santos, J. E. P., Bisinotto, R. S., Ribeiro, E. S., Lima, F. S., & Thatcher, W. W. (2012). Impacts of metabolism and nutrition during the transition period on fertility of dairy cows. In 2012 High Plains Dairy Conference, Amarillo, Texas (pp. 97-112).
Walsh, S. W., Williams, E. J., & Evans, A. C. O. (2011). A review of the causes of poor fertility in high milk producing dairy cows. Animal reproduction science, 123(3-4), 127-138.
Zhao, F. Q., & Keating, A. (2007). Expression and regulation of glucose transporters in the bovine mammary gland. Journal of Dairy science, 90, E76-E86.
Weber, C., Hametner, C., Tuchscherer, A., Losand, B., Kanitz, E., Otten, W., … & Hammon, H. M. (2013). Hepatic gene expression involved in glucose and lipid metabolism in transition cows: Effects of fat mobilization during early lactation in relation to milk performance and metabolic changes. Journal of dairy science, 96(9), 5670-5681.
Bossaert, P., Leroy, J., Cools, S., & Opsomer, G. (2008). De metabole adaptatiemechanismen bij hoogproductieve melkkoeien. Vlaams Diergeneeskundig Tijdschrift, 77(1), 207-215.
Hammon, D., Evjen, I. M., Dhiman, T. R., Goff, J. P., & Walters, J. L. (2006). Neutrophil function and energy status in Holstein cows with uterine health disorders. Veterinary immunology and immunopathology, 113(1-2), 21-29.
LeBlanc, S. J. (2008). Postpartum uterine disease and dairy herd reproductive performance: a review. The Veterinary Journal, 176(1), 102-114.
Proactive udder health support
Below we show the protocol we recommend for optimal udder health. Clicking on the picture will show more information about the product. However, we always recommend using the products in a program for optimal results.
14 days before calving
1 week after calving
1 week after calving
1 week after calving
4-8 weeks before drying off
4-8 weeks before drying off
Get in touch!
Would you like to be visited by an advisor to discuss the health challenges on your farm together? Our AHV Specialist will be happy to visit you to jointly assess the health of your cows and come up with appropriate cow-specific advice.
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