Arm & Hammer Animal Nutrition

Enhance Your Bovine Employee Management Skills

Maintaining accurate records of health events, developing and adapting protocols to improve care and tracking interventions are key components to improve transition management. Plus, you can boost cow health and immunity during this timeframe with scientifically proven feed ingredients that include Essential Fatty Acids (EFAs).

EFAs are essential for cow health and productivity; they cannot be synthesized by the animal and must be provided by the diet. When included in rations in explicit combination, EFAs can result in increased gains in transition performance and overall productivity, allowing cows to perform at increased levels. 

For instance, EFAs, specifically Omega-3 (18:3 linolenic) and Omega-6 (18:2 linoleic), serve important functions related to dairy cows’ reproductive health and performance. They support the production of specific reproductive hormones, especially progesterone, which influences pregnancy maintenance. And they aid in prostaglandin production, which causes ovulation and a subsequent estrous cycle. In addition, they enhance visible signs of estrus and increase blood flow to the ovaries to promote follicle growth.

In on-farm trials, EFAs:
• Lowered blood beta-hydroxybutyrate (BHBA) levels, resulting in lower incidence of metabolic disorders. On a herd level, BHBA is a useful indicator of the ability of cows to deal with metabolic challenges in the transition period. At the individual cow level, increased serum concentrations of BHBA around calving have been associated with lower milk production and impaired early reproduction.
• Lowered 1st Linear Somatic Cell Score for each herd.
• Reduced embryonic death.4
• Increased pregnancy and conception rates.
• Improved first milk weights for dairies that tracked this parameter.

These results show a direct correlation to a stronger immune system, which helps reduce incidence of disease and metabolic challenges. These healthier cows are better able to perform in virtually every measurable management metric. Simply put, EFAs offer an improved health plan for cows.

Performance Review
Likewise, it’s essential for rations to contain adequate metabolizable protein (MP) levels so that bovine employees can perform at optimum levels. While cows always have an MP requirement, these needs ramp up about three to four weeks prior to calving.

Since MP supplies the amino acids the cows need for growth, to maintain body condition, produce milk and support fetal growth, it’s critical that cows receive adequate levels, especially in the transition period. Not only are the cows’ needs increasing, but this is also the time frame when dry matter intake (DMI) decreases. This means many cows do not receive enough of this critical dietary component, especially those that do not receive prefresh diets for the necessary length of time.

Lastly, don’t forget about dietary cation-anion difference, or DCAD. DCAD does not necessarily impact the ration directly, but it has strong influences on the cow. When rations are properly formulated for DCAD, they can prevent or decrease incidence of metabolic disorders during the transition period, support milk and milk component production, aid in mitigating the effects of heat stress, increase feed intake and more.

To sum it up, a healthy cow is a long-term productive employee. Take advantage of the nutritional tools available to positively influence health, performance and productivity outcomes for your four-legged workforce. 

To learn more, visit transition.ahdairy.com.


1 Cardoso CS, Hotzel MJ, Weary DM, Robbins JA, von Keyserlingk MAG. Imagining the Ideal Dairy Farm. J Dairy Sci. Available at: http://www.journalofdairyscience.org/article/S0022-0302(15)00919-4/abstract. Accessed December 18, 2015.
2 Chester-Jones H, Linn J. Effect Of Nutrition And Management Of Dairy Heifers On Resultant Cow Longevity. University of Minnesota Extension. Available at: http://www.extension.umn.edu/agriculture/dairy/calves-and-heifers/effect-of-nutrition-and-management-on-longevity.pdf. Accessed December 18, 2015.
3 Arm & Hammer Animal Nutrition Case Study. Available at: http://www.ahdairy.com/uploads/articles/FERMENTEN_CaseStudy.pdf. Accessed December 17, 2015.
4 Early embryonic death defined as animals returning to service at 35 days postinsemination following a diagnosis of pregnancy.


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