EFFICIENCY OF FEED RATIONS
To maximize profitability, milk production needs to be efficient. Milk quality, safety and sustainability must also be factored in.
The rumen is the major digestive organ in ruminants. Its rich and complex ecosystem, allowing for fibre digestion, can be highly sensitive to nutrient-concentrated diets, leading to disorders. Managing the rumen includes balancing the gut microflora for optimal fermentation and dietary efficiency. It is important to avoid excess rumen digestions as not to waste unnecessary nutrients on the microbes, and to minimize unwanted gases such as methane and ammonia. This can also lead to nitrogen and energy losses and has environmental consequences. The nutritionists strive to improve feed efficiency to reduce the costs of production.
Due to the genetic selection and the increase of the dairy performances, the optimization of the ruminant fermentations is a key factor of the feed efficiency.
SUPPORTING THE METABOLISM
Milk production is activated by reproduction, which in turn needs optimal metabolic function.
The liver plays a key role in all of this by doing the following:
- produces, stores and uses glucose, the most important source of energy in the body;
- synthesizes fatty acids, triglycerides, ketones and cholesterol, and prevents fatty infiltrations;
- regulates the rate at which fatty acids circulate;
- balances protein biosynthesis and degradation;
- ensures vitamin storage and redistribution to the tissues.
Futhermore, the liver supports the processes of degradation and detoxification, as well as the transformation of a large number of endogenous and exogenous substances. With the improvement of their productivity, dairy cows are confronted, mainly in early lactation, with changes in their metabolism. A too early or too intense mobilization of their adipose reserves intensively stimulates hepatic metabolism which can induce liver steatosis or ketosis. The consequences are: decreased appetite, degradation of neoglucogenesis, a decrease in the immune response and an increase in oxidative stress. Finally, any alteration of the immunity will cause an exacerbation of the infectious phenomena (metritis, mastitis ...), but also metabolic with direct impacts on the health of the animals and their reproductive performances. Adequate rearing, control of feeding and adapted feed transitions can prevent the occurrence of these diseases and increase the longevity and production capacity of ruminants.