The impact of direct‐fed microbials and enzymes on the health and performance of dairy cows with emphasis on colostrum quality and serum immunoglobulin concentrations in calves


Thirty‐six cows were blocked by calving date and randomly assigned to one of three treatments. Cows were on treatments 3 weeks prepartum through 8 weeks post‐partum. Treatments were as follows: (i) no direct‐fed microbial (DFM) or cellulase and amylase enzymes (C), (ii) 45.4 g/day of DFM (D) or (iii) 45.4 g/day of DFM and 18.2 g/day of enzyme (DE). Total mixed ration fed and refused were measured daily to determine dry matter intake (DMI). Blood samples were taken three times weekly and analysed for β‐hydroxybutyrate, glucose and non‐esterified fatty acids. Body weight (BW) was measured weekly. Colostrum was weighed and analysed for IgA and IgG concentration. Calves were fed 4 L of colostrum within 2 hr of birth. Calf blood samples were taken at 0 and 24 hr for analysis of IgA and IgG concentrations and apparent efficiency of absorption. Milk yield was measured daily and samples collected weekly. Initial BW was different among treatments with D being lesser than C or DE treatments. Body weight, weight gain, efficiency of gain, DMI and blood parameters were unaffected. Treatment did not affect colostrum yield. Ash percentage of colostrum tended to increase with D and DE, while IgA and total solids yield decreased with D. Colostrum fat yield was decreased in D and DE. Treatments did not impact BW, serum IgA and IgG concentrations or apparent efficiency of absorption of calves. Post‐partum BW, DMI, blood parameters, milk production and composition were unaffected by treatment. However, cows on D gained more BW and tended to have greater efficiency of gain compared to those on DE, but were similar to C. Somatic cell scores were greatest for D. Results indicate that DFM and enzyme supplementation did not improve health and performance of dairy cattle during the pre‐ and post‐partum periods under conditions of this study.


Biological Sciences

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Journal of Animal Physiology and Animal Nutrition



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