9 June 1995

More Vitamin E

UKdairy producers would eliminate many of the health and fertility upsets experienced with high yielders by increasing Vitamin E levels in the diet.

Comments came from US nutrition specialist Professor Marshall McCullough. He told a farmer seminar at the Keenan TMR Centre, Stoneleigh, Warwicks, that Vitamin E levels in UK rations were atrocious.

He advised offering 800mg a cow a day of Vitamin E in the first five weeks of the dry period, 1000mg a cow a day for the last three weeks and until served, and then reducing levels to 800mg a cow for the rest of the lactation.

Feeding more fat in the diet immediately after calving would also safeguard fertility.

"Energy is especially important to the cow immediately after calving," said Prof McCullough.

Cows lost about one condition score after calving as production overtook feed intake. Providing extra energy as fat at that stage would help spread weight loss over 50-60 days and reduce the negative energy balance in early lactation.

"When condition falls too fast the body switches off its reproductive system and the cow doesnt get bred," he said.

Another ration ingredient vital for fertility was beta-caratene. High yielding cows could also benefit from yeast products such as Diamond V which enhanced ration palatability.

Some 50% of US herds fed yeast and of those 80% fed Diamond V.