Choose fats for early lactation carefully

Fats can play a significant role in the diets of early lactation cows, helping get them settled into lactation.

Choose fats for early lactation carefully

Fats can play a significant role in the diets of early lactation cows, helping get them settled into lactation, producing high quality milk while regaining body condition and preparing for rebreeding.

But as, UFAC’s Mike Chown, advises, all fats are not created equal and selecting the wrong balance of fatty acids, rather than setting cows up for a profitable lactation can precipitate a whole host of problems.

“Everyone knows the transition period is crucial for a successful lactation,” Mike comments. “For optimum performance, fresh calved cows need a diet that can achieve several different objectives. It must provide the balanced nutrients to support the recovery of body condition post- calving, to achieve target yields of high quality milk and ensure good reproductive performance.

“We are all too familiar with diets that do not provide sufficient energy, leading to continued negative energy balance, body condition loss, disappointing production and fertility. Fatty acids are commonly added to early lactation diets to help increase energy density to boost total energy intake in order to reduce negative energy balance.

“However, while the correct balance of fatty acids will help achieve this and support production and fertility, the wrong balance can compromise the entire lactation.”

Avoid C16 fatty acids

While C16 fatty acids are a valuable addition to the diet of mid and late lactation cows, helping drive production and compositional quality, they are not suited to the requirements of fresh cows. High levels of C16 is associated with insulin resistance, excess body condition loss which means cows will remain in negative energy balance longer and therefore fertility will be prejudiced.

Feed a balance of fats

The ideal fatty acid supplement will contain a blend of fatty acids. It will have low levels of C16 to reduce the impact on body condition. It will contain C18:1 Oleic acid which helps improve the digestibility of all fatty acids in the diet, making more energy available and reducing body condition loss. It also encourages the production of glucose, essential to get cows cycling.

Finally, early lactation cows need a supply of omega 3’s, ideally EPA and DHA fatty acids, to boost the immune system, improve egg quality and reduce early embryo losses.

“UFAC has been pioneering the development of products with balanced fatty acids to meet specific needs of dairy cows for many years such as Dynalac, Omega 3 supplement and Omega Cream.”

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