Boosting Milk Yield with Digestarom® Dairy

Milk production in heifers fed Digestarom® Dairy increased by 0.7 kg per day.

A feed trial was conducted in a high-production dairy herd in the United States to investigate the effect of Digestarom® Dairy on performance. Previous studies had demonstrated improved production in dairy cows fed Digestarom® Dairy. However the product had not formally been tested in herds producing more than 45 kg of milk per cow per day, nor in cows that were also receiving monensin in the diet.

The trial site

A commercial 'robot' herd in Minnesota, USA, was used for the trial. Digestarom® Dairy can be used in herds milked by any method, not only robotically. However, robotically milked herds provide an excellent opportunity to conduct field trials as trial groups are fed the same feed, except for the concentrates that are offered in the robots during milking (control and treatment concentrates). The herd also has the same general genetics, the same environmental conditions, and the same farm management practices. In this trial, animals were split into two groups of 62 cows each. The final trial results were based on the data from 118 animals that had completed the entire testing protocol. Milk production was recorded for two weeks prior to the start of the trial to ensure that production levels were similar in both groups.

Treatments

The cows were fed either a control concentrate, or a concentrate containing Digestarom® Dairy (2g per cow per day) for four weeks. Both groups averaged intakes of 5.67 kg of concentrates in the milking parlor. After the four-week trial period, treatment was withdrawn for two weeks (the washout period) and then Digestarom® Dairy was introduced into the group that had previously been the control group. This switchback trial design allowed any potential differences that may have existed in the animals or pen conditions to be equalized. The pre-trial and washout periods showed that both groups were starting from the same production level. Changes in milk production during and after consumption of Digestarom® Dairy indicated that it was necessary to feed Digestarom® Dairy for two weeks to see tangible results. The effect of Digestarom® Dairy dissipated two weeks after the additive was removed from the diet. Statistical analysis compared production during the final two weeks of the fourweek feeding period. Data was evaluated by looking at 4 groups: heifers less than 60 day in milk and more than 60 days in milk and cows less than 60 days in milk and cows more than 60 days in milk.

Increased milk yield

Milk production in the heifers fed Digestarom® Dairy increased by 0.7 kg per day and the mature cows that were given the additive produced 1.6 kg more milk per day. Interestingly, mature cows less than 60 days in milk increased daily energy-corrected milk (ECM) by almost 1.4 kg and milk protein by 63 g. In both heifers and cows, and in both early and late days-in-milk; cows receiving Digestarom® Dairy numerically produced greater milk fat. With no detected changes in body weight or feed intake, the cows receiving Digestarom® Dairy appeared to be more efficient.

Where does the extra milk come from?

The increase in total milk volume is related to the amount of lactose produced. All cows in early lactation are typically in negative energy balance, which limits milk production. Lactose is produced from glucose, which is generally available in smaller quantities during the early part of lactation. Cows produce glucose partly by deaminating proteins and combining them with other sources of three carbon units from the carbon skeleton originating from other sources.

Reducing inflammation

The results of this trial, including the increased milk production and improved milk protein levels, suggest that the energy balance was better in the animals given Digestarom® Dairy. Research from Dr. Barry Bradford’s group at Kansas State University has shown how reducing inflammation in post-parturient cows improved production and health. These findings are very much in line with the observations from this trial in terms of improved energy balance, suggesting that Digestarom® Dairy may reduce inflammation.

Supporting gut health

Phytogenic compounds, such as those found in Digestarom® Dairy, have not only been associated with improved inflammatory conditions but also improved gut integrity. The trial performed by Kansas University was conducted in mid-winter in extremely cold conditions, but multiple studies have shown that cows suffering from heat stress have leaky guts and a demand for glucose that goes beyond any lack of glucose from their feed intake alone. In heat stress conditions, Digestarom® Dairy may prove to be an important tool to mediate the effects of high temperatures and improve productivity in general. The other benefit that needs further investigation is the potential of Digestarom® Dairy to improve reproductive efficiency. Improving energy balance and glucose availability is important to improve uterine involution and ovulation, and could potentially result in fewer open days and healthier herd finances.

Overall, the trial confirmed the potential of Digestarom® Dairy to improve performance under field conditions, especially supporting animals in early lactation.

In Brief

  • Digestarom® Dairy is a phytogenic feed additive produced by BIOMIN that delivers many benefits to milking cows, including reducing inflammation.
  • Reducing inflammation in the gut enables a better energy balance and increased milk production, improving yields.
  • Digestarom® Dairy also supports overall gut health, improving nutrient utilization and feed efficiency.