Larry Roth, Ph.D., PAS, Assoc. VP of Science and Technology, Agrarian Solutions
Inflammation and its effects on dairy cow productivity and reproduction has become a frequent research topic and popular press subject, and rightly so. Inflammation is a normal and necessary process for the body’s immune system to assist in healing and recovery, such as resolving a bacterial infection in the cow’s mammary gland. Calving and subsequent body healing are major inflammation periods in the cow’s year.
Unfortunately, ruminal changes, heat stress, comfort challenges and mycotoxins are extra inflammation loads that may go unresolved with disastrous consequences. The end result is that nutrients are diverted from production and reproduction, draining dollars from financial goals. The Select DTX™ product has the potential to protect the cow from excessive inflammation due to mycotoxins, as well as support immune function via other modes-of-action.
The dry period is often considered a rest and relaxation period for the cows. Instead, this is a challenging time with the greatest fetal growth, colostrum quality and quantity being determined and the mammary gland being prepared to launch into milk production. Unintended bodily challenges from moldy feeds, heat stress and overcrowding can result in continual and unresolved nutrient drains to weaken the unborn calf, reduce colostrum production, and reduce the ability of the mammary gland to prepare for lactation.
Then, the cow experiences her most disruptive day of the year: the day she calves.
Inflammation opportunities abound:
– Body fat breakdown to meet energy needs sends signals to activate the immune system.
– Failure to shed the placenta and adequately shrink the uterus can result in major uterine infection and metritis.
– Changes in mammary tissue and a weakened immune system can quickly result in mastitis.
– Mycotoxins can compromise the intestinal barrier reducing its ability to protect the body from a multitude of pathogens.
The unique L-form bacteria technology, also known as cell wall-deficient bacteria and found in DTX, actively works at the intestinal lining to protect the body and reduce the inflammation load. Recent studies also suggest the cell wall-deficient bacteria enhance immune function to protect the cow against other challenges besides mycotoxins. This finding is important for those situations when mycotoxin levels are low.
Numerous case studies have demonstrated that supplementing DTX during confirmed mycotoxin challenges, as well as periods of variable toxin levels, improves pregnancy rates, reduces abortions and increases milk production. For example, a 4,200-cow herd decided to remove DTX to save money during low and variable mycotoxin levels, and within 90 d experienced a 3% reduction in conception rate and a 5 lb/cow/d milk decrease.
The enhanced production and reproduction observed in the case studies was likely the result of resolving inflammation allowing nutrients to be available for cows to more successfully achieve their genetic potentials.