Machinery & Products

Long-term rumen health through probiotic feed

By Dairy News

An autopsy recently performed by Tasmanian veterinarian, Dr Dave Nolan of Deloraine Veterinary Centre, on a six-year-old dairy cow that was part of a newly-developed ‘probiotic’ feeding program has found that the cow’s four stomachs were in an extremely healthy condition.

Jamie Berne, from Meander, was, at the time, milking 260 Holsteins, coming into drying off period. They milk 350 cows at peak times.

The herd at Fossil Park had been on the new probiotic program as part of their milking ration for the past two years.

Wholesale Probiotics Australia has been working on the probiotic-based feed additive for the last four years.

The company’s Dr Robyn Plunkett said results have proven it to be effective in replacing the standard chemical-based rumen enhancers and sodium bicarbonate.

According to the company, an added advantage, in the long term, is the development of the physiological state of the rumen. Several other autopsies have confirmed this.

The product is a unique combination of five strains of rumen-specific bacteria, a strain of active live dry yeast, plus five digestive enzymes. Dr Plunkett said that it provides a natural alternative for rumen control and improves general health and wellbeing.

In addition, Jamie Berne’s herd had received a high strength probiotic-based lead feed supplement in their transition diet.

They were fed the probiotic in a professionally formulated blend of anionic salts, vitamins and minerals with three kilograms of grain, each afternoon, starting sixteen days prior to calving.

“We changed to BioPro Super Start two years ago for lead feeding for the springers. Prior to that we were using a good quality industry standard anionic-based lead feed mix,” Mr Berne said.

“We noticed immediate changes in the cows’ health — and particularly, we had very few LDAs (left displaced abomasums) after calving, compared with the usual seven or eight.

“In the last two years we’ve had two only. Plus, there has been less ketosis and minimal retained foetal membranes. The cows had more energy, straight away, and came onto milk very efficiently.

“We had faster calving and had to pull fewer calves.”

Autopsy showed a healthy rumen. 

Jamie said the cows are more likely to eat their ration when including the new probiotic formula into the diet.

The cow that was examined had been showing no clinical signs of any current disease or illness prior to being humanely euthanased to facilitate the post mortem investigation. She had been producing 36 litres of milk per day, from only three quarters since February.

The autopsy report stated: ‘On gross examination at post mortem, this cow’s rumen appeared extremely healthy with an extensive population of well-developed, long ruminal papillae as well as a thick internal rumen wall.

‘Bear in mind that these cows are fed nine kilograms of grain per day, a relatively high rate that, if poorly managed, can have significant detrimental effect on rumen health and activity.

‘Whilst the rumen was the focus of this particular investigation, the three other stomachs were also found to be extremely healthy, and this trend continued throughout the entire intestinal tract.’

After calving, the cows at Fossil Park are fed 30 grams per day of the milking probiotic formula in their ration.

“We are going to push this up to 50 grams by adding in the extra 20 grams of BioPro DFM. We don’t need the extra minerals,”’ Mr Berne said.

“Fat and protein is definitely on the up, and noticeably more in this second year. Our cell count is as low as it’s ever been, at the moment it’s around 70 000, and has been as low as 50 000.