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Direct-Fed Microbial Supplementation on Ruminal Digestion, Health, and Performance of Pre- and Postpartum Dairy Cattle

      Abstract

      Effects of supplementing direct-fed microbial agents (DFM) to dairy cows during the transition period were evaluated. Forty-four Holstein cows were fed close-up and lactating diets that did or did not contain 2 g of DFM/cow per d. Direct-fed microbial supplementation contained approximately 5 × 109 cfu of yeast and 5 × 109 cfu of bacteria (2 specific Enterococcus faecium strains) incorporated into a cornmeal carrier. Supplemented cows were fed the DFM 21 d prior to expected calving date through 10 wk postpartum. Cows supplemented with DFM had higher estimated ruminally available dry matter (DM) for both corn silage and haylage than did control cows. Supplemented cows consumed more DM during both the pre- and postpartum periods. In addition, those supplemented with DFM produced 2.3 kg more milk/cow per d than did nonsupplemented cows. There was no difference in 3.5% fat-corrected milk. Milk fat percentage was lower, but not depressed (4.76 vs. 4.44%) for cows receiving DFM. There were no differences in milk fat yield or milk protein percentage and yield. Cows consuming DFM had higher blood glucose postpartum, as well as lower β-hydroxybutyrate levels both prepartum and on d 1 postpartum. Plasma nonesterified fatty acid concentration was not statistically affected by DFM, but was numerically lower prepartum and higher postpartum for supplemented cows. This study demonstrated that targeted DFM supplementation enhanced ruminal digestion of forage DM. Early lactation cows receiving supplemental DFM produced more milk and consumed more DM during the pre- and postpartum periods. Cows consuming DFM, however, experienced a lower, but not depressed, fat percentage compared with nonsupplemented cows.

      Key words

      Introduction

      The supplementation of direct-fed microbial agents (DFM) in dairy rations has become a generally accepted practice with the following stated benefits: increased ruminal digestion, DMI, and milk production and reduced body temperature (
      • Piva G.S.
      • Belladonna S.
      • Fusconi G.
      • Sicbaldi F.
      Effects of yeast on dairy cow performance, ruminal fermentation, blood components, and milk manufacturing properties.
      ;
      • Higginbotham G.E.
      • Collar C.A.
      • Aseltine M.S.
      • Bath D.L.
      Effect of yeast culture and Aspergillus oryzae extract on milk yield in a commercial dairy herd.
      ;
      • McGilliard M.L.
      • Stallings C.C.
      Increase milk yield of commercial dairy herds fed a microbial and enzyme supplement.
      ). The term DFM has included specific and nonspecific yeast, fungi, bacteria, cell fragments, and filtrates (
      • Beharka A.A.
      • Nagaraja T.G.
      Effects of Aspergillus oryzae extract (Amaferm®) on in vitro fiber digestion.
      ;
      • Sullivan H.M.
      • Martin S.A.
      Effects of Saccharomyces cerevisiae culture on in vitro mixed ruminal microorganism fermentation.
      ;
      • Knowlton K.F.
      • McKinney J.M.
      • Cobb C.
      Effect of a direct-fed fibrolytic enzyme formulation on nutrient intake, partitioning, and excretion in early and late lactation Holstein cows.
      ). Modes of action are variable and include native rumen microbiota enhancement through increased substrate breakdown, enhancement of nutrient uptake, and provision of growth factors (
      • Martin S.A.
      • Nesbit D.J.
      Effect of direct-fed microbials on ruminal microbial fermentation.
      ). Controlled studies have shown that specific combinations of Enterococcus strains, selected for a unique action in the rumen environment, raised nadir pH in the rumen, increased mean rumen pH, and increased the mean low daily pH (
      • Nocek J.E.
      • Kautz W.P.
      • Leedle J.A.Z.
      • Allman J.G.
      Ruminal supplementation of direct-fed microbials on diurnal pH variation and in situ digestion in dairy cattle.
      ). This specific combination of Enterococcus faecium strains has also shown increased prepartum intake as well as postpartum production in high-producing dairy cattle (
      • Nocek J.E.
      • Kautz W.P.
      • Leedle J.A.Z.
      • Block E.
      Direct-fed microbial supplementation on the performance of dairy cattle during the transition period.
      ). The rationale for this response may be associated with the production of tonic levels of lactate, which would allow fastidious lactic acid-utilizing microbes to sustain a metabolically active population. This would enable the utilizers to sequester more lactate at specific times when concentrations fluctuate as a result of diurnal feeding behavior. Further confirmation of these results is important in establishing this concept. The objective of this study is to further evaluate the effect of a DFM in dairy cows diets during the transition period.

      Materials and Methods

      Forty-four multiparous Holstein cows were blocked by previous lactation 305-d mature equivalent milk yield into 2 treatment groups to start on the study 21 ± 3 d before expected calving date and continue through 10 wk postpartum. They were fed a TMR ad libitum once daily. On the day after calving, cows were switched to the appropriate postpartum treatment TMR, which was also fed once daily ad libitum. The treatments were control (prepartum and postpartum TMR with no DFM supplementation) or DFM [control prepartum and postpartum TMR with inclusion of 2 g of DFM/cow per d (Probios TC, Chr. Hansen, Milwaukee, WI), Biomate yeast plus (1 g; 5 × 109 cfu; Chr. Hansen), and 2 Enterococcos strains (5 × 109 cfu) in both periods]. The DFM was premixed in cornmeal, which was incorporated into the close-up and lactating cow diets at a rate of 0.45 kg/d. The control cows received cornmeal without the DFM. Ingredient and nutrient compositions of the diets fed during the experimental periods are listed in Table 1. Feeds were sampled weekly throughout the experiment. Forage quantity fed was adjusted weekly, if needed, based on DM determination. Feedstuffs were composited monthly and analyzed for CP, NDF, ether extract, and minerals by wet chemistry methods (DairyOne Laboratories, Ithaca, NY).
      Table 1Ration composition for diets offered 21 d prepartum through parturition and 10 wk postpartum
      Offered either with or without 2g of direct-fed microbial (DFM; Probios TC, Chr. Hansen, Milwaukee, WI)/d incorporated into 0.454kg of cornmeal/cow per d. The DFM contained 5×109 cfu of yeast and 5×109 cfu of bacteria (2 specific Enterococcus faecium strains).
      IngredientPrepartumPostpartum
      Mixed haylage51.29.8
      Corn silage27.643.7
      Corn meal8.716.5
      Chocolate-sugar blend
      Ground chocolate and processed cane sugar: 67:33.
      3.4
      Roasted soybeans6.9
      Rumen-inert fat
      Megalac (Church and Dwight Co., Piscataway, NJ).
      0.4
      Protein, vitamin, and mineral premix
      Mix nutrient specification: 46% CP, 19.5% soluble protein, 2.18% fat, 1.00% Ca, 0.94% P, 1.42% Mg, 2.43% K, 0.70% S, 2.53% Na, 2.27% Cl, 423ppm of Zn, 88.2ppm of Cu, 110ppm of Mn, 9.7ppm of Co.
      17.9
      Prepartum supplement
      Prepartum supplemement nutrient specification: 52.0% CP, 37% soluble protein, 2.72% fat, 1.69% Ca, 1.58% P, 2.37% Mg, 1.30% K, 2.35% S, 324ppm of Zn, 98ppm of Cu, 202ppm of Mn, and 9.7ppm of Co.
      10.1
      Limestone2.41.4
      Nutrient
       CP, %16.318.4
       Degradable intake protein, % of CP67.558.2
       Undegradable intake protein, % of CP33.541.8
       NEL, Mcal/kg1.501.80
       NDF, %42.130.6
       NFC, %31.240.6
       Fat, %3.44.6
       Ca, %1.861.1
       P, %0.420.40
       Mg, %0.340.42
      1 Offered either with or without 2 g of direct-fed microbial (DFM; Probios TC, Chr. Hansen, Milwaukee, WI)/d incorporated into 0.454 kg of cornmeal/cow per d. The DFM contained 5 × 109 cfu of yeast and 5 × 109 cfu of bacteria (2 specific Enterococcus faecium strains).
      2 Ground chocolate and processed cane sugar: 67:33.
      3 Megalac (Church and Dwight Co., Piscataway, NJ).
      4 Mix nutrient specification: 46% CP, 19.5% soluble protein, 2.18% fat, 1.00% Ca, 0.94% P, 1.42% Mg, 2.43% K, 0.70% S, 2.53% Na, 2.27% Cl, 423 ppm of Zn, 88.2 ppm of Cu, 110 ppm of Mn, 9.7 ppm of Co.
      5 Prepartum supplemement nutrient specification: 52.0% CP, 37% soluble protein, 2.72% fat, 1.69% Ca, 1.58% P, 2.37% Mg, 1.30% K, 2.35% S, 324 ppm of Zn, 98 ppm of Cu, 202 ppm of Mn, and 9.7 ppm of Co.
      Production data measured included the following: daily milk weights (twice daily at 0700 and 1900 h) and milk composition (samples collected on Monday p.m. and Tuesday a.m. for 10 wk). Milk fat, CP, MUN, lactose, and SCC measurements were taken at the DairyOne Laboratories by infrared spectroscopy on composite a.m.-p.m. samples. Feed offerings and orts were recorded daily for determination of DMI. Body weights and BCS were recorded 21 ± 3 before calving, before calving, after calving, and at trial termination. The following health items were recorded for all cows: retained placenta (a placenta that had been retained for >12 h), metritis (a uterine condition diagnosed by either a vaginal discharge or rectal palpation), ketosis (ketones detected in the urine by keto-strips at a high level), and displaced abomasum (diagnosed as gas accumulation as detected by percussion with a stethoscope on the left or right side). Blood was drawn from the first 14 cows per treatment on d 1 prior to expected calving date and on d 1 and 7 postcalving. Samples were analyzed for glucose, BHBA, and NEFA. Glucose was determined by the enzymatic analysis (glucose oxidase) using the commercial kit (kit 510-A; Sigma Chemical, St. Louis, MO). Concentrations of NEFA were analyzed by enzymatic analysis (NEFA-C, WAKO Pure Chemicals Industries, Osaka, Japan) using modifications described by
      • McCutcheon S.N.
      • Bauman D.E.
      Effect of chronic growth hormone treatment on responses to epinephrine and thyrotropin-releasing hormone on lactating cows.
      and
      • Sechen S.J.
      • Dunshea F.R.
      • Bauman D.E.
      Somatotropin in lactating cows—Effect on response to epinephrine and insulin.
      . Concentrations of BHBA were quantified (BHBA dehydrogenase) using a kit (kit 310-UV, Sigma Chemical).
      The in situ procedure (
      • Nocek J.E.
      In situ and other methods to estimate ruminal protein and energy digestibility: A review.
      ) used rumen digestibility time points of 0, 2, 4, 6, 12, 24, 48, and 72 h. Dry matter digestibilities were conducted on corn silage and haycrop silage in 2 ruminally canulated cows (one cow per treatment) at 3 different times between wk 4 and 6 of lactation. Evaluations were conducted on the residues to determine the relative proportion of “a” (water soluble, 53-μm filterable), “b” [insoluble digestible: 100 − (a + c)], and “c” (100- to 72-h residual) fractions; KdB was the rate of “b” fraction digestion, and overall estimated ruminally available DM was determined utilizing the equation of
      • Van Soest P.J.
      • Sniffen C.J.
      • Mertens D.R.
      • Fox D.G.
      • Robinson P.H.
      • Krishnamoothy U.
      A net protein system for cattle: The rumen submodel for nitrogen.
      .
      Statistical analyses were conducted using
      SAS JMP
      Software: Statistical Discovery Software.
      utilizing split-plot in time ANOVA for repeated measures. The model used was as follows: μ = mean + treatment + week + cow (treatment) + residual error. For blood and undigested feed residues, no repeated measures were used. Simple one-way ANOVA was conducted to evaluate differences between treatments. Health data with dichotomous outcomes, such as retained placentas, metritis, ketosis, and displaced abomasums, were all analyzed by logistic regression (
      • Stokes M.E.
      • Davis C.S.
      • Koch G.G.
      Logistic regression I: Dichotomous response.
      ) according to a model that included the observed outcome, treatment, and week of lactation.

      Results

      Ruminally undegradable DM at specific digestion points was generally lower for cows supplemented with DFM compared with control cows for corn silage and haylage (Table 2). The undegradable fraction at 72 h (“c”) was lower (P < 0.05), and estimated ruminally available DM was higher (P < 0.05), for both forages for cows supplemented with DFM (Table 3). There was no effect of DFM supplementation on ruminal digestion rate.
      Table 2Effect of direct-fed microbial
      Probios TC (Chr. Hansen, Milwaukee, WI). The DFM contained 5×109 cfu of yeast and 5×109 cfu of bacteria (2 specific Enterococcus faecium strains).
      (DFM) supplementation on in situ undegraded forage DM
      HourTreatment
      Control (n = 3)DFM (n = 3)SEMP <
      ––Corn silage (% undegraded)––
      059.658.60.4NS
      256.854.90.60.10
      453.154.91.4NS
      653.951.61.2NS
      1253.948.21.40.05
      2446.740.80.80.01
      4834.427.41.00.01
      7228.622.10.50.01
      ––Haylage (% undegraded)––
      073.071.20.7NS
      272.970.30.20.01
      469.369.71.0NS
      671.665.91.30.05
      1270.664.10.80.01
      2459.851.30.90.01
      4848.845.30.80.05
      7245.740.90.60.01
      1 Probios TC (Chr. Hansen, Milwaukee, WI). The DFM contained 5 × 109 cfu of yeast and 5 × 109 cfu of bacteria (2 specific Enterococcus faecium strains).
      Table 3Effect of direct-fed microbial
      Probios TC (Chr. Hansen, Milwaukee, WI). The DFM contained 5×109 cfu of yeast and 5×109 cfu of bacteria (2 specific Enterococcus faecium strains).
      (DFM) supplementation on in situ digestion pools, rate of forage DM digestion, and estimated ruminally available DM (ERADM)
      Variable
      a = water-soluble, 53-μm filterable fraction; b = insoluble digestible fraction; c=100- to 72-h residual fraction; kdB = rate of “b” fraction digestion.
      Treatment
      Control (n = 3)DFM (n = 3)SEMP <
      ––Corn silage––
      a, %40.241.60.5NS
      b, %22.324.91.0NS
      c, %37.533.50.50.01
      KdB, %/h4.574.280.3NS
      ERADM, %53.558.90.80.01
      ––Haylage––
      a, %40.441.40.4NS
      b, %31.036.60.40.01
      c, %28.622.00.50.01
      KdB, %/h3.373.910.3NS
      ERADM, %50.553.00.40.05
      1 Probios TC (Chr. Hansen, Milwaukee, WI). The DFM contained 5 × 109 cfu of yeast and 5 × 109 cfu of bacteria (2 specific Enterococcus faecium strains).
      2 a = water-soluble, 53-μm filterable fraction; b = insoluble digestible fraction; c = 100- to 72-h residual fraction; kdB = rate of “b” fraction digestion.
      Cows supplemented with DFM consumed 1.0 kg/d more (P < 0.10) DM during the prepartum period than did control cows (Table 4). During wk −1 precalving, supplemented cows consumed 1.2 kg more DM than did non-supplemented cows (Figure 1). Postpartum intakes were also higher (P < 0.01) for DFM-supplemented cows. Milk yield was higher (P < 0.01) for cows receiving DFM compared with control cows (Figure 2). However, there was no difference between supplemented and non-supplemented cows for 3.5% FCM.
      Table 4The effect of direct-fed microbial
      Probios TC (Chr. Hansen, Milwaukee, WI). The DFM contained 5×109 cfu of yeast and 5×109 cfu of bacteria (2 specific Enterococcus faecium strains).
      (DFM) supplementation on pre- and postpartum DMI and production responses through wk 10 postpartum
      VariableTreatment
      Cows received treatment from 21±3 d prior to expected calving date through wk 10 postpartum.
      Control (n = 22)DFM (n = 22)SEMP <
      DMI prepartum, kg
      Mean of 3 wk prior to expected calving date.
      10.311.30.300.10
      DMI postpartum, kg20.022.70.300.01
      Yield/d
       Milk, kg36.939.20.50.01
       3.5% FCM, kg44.745.20.9NS
       Fat, kg1.811.760.04NS
       Protein, kg1.141.200.02NS
      Composition
       Fat, %4.764.440.090.01
       Protein, %3.123.130.06NS
       SCC, cells/mL × 10321015426NS
       Lactose, %4.594.650.020.05
       MUN, mg/dL12.512.0.22NS
      1 Probios TC (Chr. Hansen, Milwaukee, WI). The DFM contained 5 × 109 cfu of yeast and 5 × 109 cfu of bacteria (2 specific Enterococcus faecium strains).
      2 Cows received treatment from 21 ± 3 d prior to expected calving date through wk 10 postpartum.
      3 Mean of 3 wk prior to expected calving date.
      Figure thumbnail gr1
      Figure 1Effect of direct-fed microbial (DFM) supplementation on weekly pre- and postpartum DMI. The DFM contained 5 × 109 cfu of yeast and 5 × 109 cfu of bacteria (2 specific Enterococcus faecium strains).
      Figure thumbnail gr2
      Figure 2Effect of direct-fed microbial (DFM) supplementation on weekly milk yield. The DFM contained 5 × 109 cfu of yeast and 5 × 109 cfu of bacteria (2 specific Enterococcus faecium strains).
      Fat percentage was lower (P < 0.01) for cows receiving DFM compared with controls (Table 4). Primary differences were associated with the first 2 wk postpartum (Figure 3). The milk percentage was not depressed and was >4.0%. Milk fat yield was not affected by DFM supplementation.
      Figure thumbnail gr3
      Figure 3Effect of direct-fed microbial (DFM) supplementation on weekly milk fat percentage. The DFM contained 5 × 109 cfu of yeast and 5 × 109 cfu of bacteria (2 specific Enterococcus faecium strains).
      There was no treatment effect on milk protein percentage. Protein yield was not statistically (P > 0.10) affected, but was numerically higher for cows consuming DFM compared with controls. There was no effect of treatment on SCC or MUN. Cows supplemented with DFM had a higher (P < 0.05) lactose percentage compared with controls.
      There was no effect of treatment on BW change or BCS either prepartum or postpartum (Table 5). Control cows starting the study were approximately 44 kg heavier compared with DFM-fed cows. Regardless, the relative BW loss was not different. Both groups sustained very low and similar body condition losses.
      Table 5The effect of direct-fed microbial
      Probios TC (Chr. Hansen, Milwaukee, WI). The DFM contained 5×109 cfu of yeast and 5×109 cfu of bacteria (2 specific Enterococcus faecium strains).
      (DFM) supplementation on pre- and postpartum BW and BCS
      Treatment
      Cows received treatment from 21±3 d prior to expected calving date through wk 10 postpartum.
      Control (n = 22)DFM (n = 22)SEMP <
      Prepartum
       BW, kg
        Initial75871419
        Final75771519NS
        Change−1+1
       BCS
        Initial3.63.50.12NS
        Final3.63.50.11NS
        Change00
      Postpartum
       BW, kg
        Initial67965217NS
        Final62761316NS
        Change−52−39
       BCS
        Initial3.53.50.11NS
        Final3.23.20.08NS
        Change−0.3−.3
      1 Probios TC (Chr. Hansen, Milwaukee, WI). The DFM contained 5 × 109 cfu of yeast and 5 × 109 cfu of bacteria (2 specific Enterococcus faecium strains).
      2 Cows received treatment from 21 ± 3 d prior to expected calving date through wk 10 postpartum.
      Two sets of twins were born to control cows, and one set was born to DFM-supplemented cows (Table 6). Cows receiving DFM had 13.6 vs. 9.1% retained placentas. The incidences of metritis (13.6%), ketosis (9.1%), and displaced abomasums were similar between treatments.
      Table 6The effect of direct-fed microbial
      Probios TC (Chr. Hansen, Milwaukee, WI). The DFM contained 5×109 cfu of yeast and 5×109 cfu of bacteria (2 specific Enterococcus faecium strains).
      (DFM) supplementation on postpartum health disorders
      VariableTreatment
      Control (n = 22)DFM (n = 22)P
      ––[% (number of incidences)]––
      Twins9.1

      (2)
      4.5

      (1)
      NS
      Retained placenta9.1

      (2)
      13.6

      (3)
      NS
      Metritis13.6

      (3)
      13.6

      (3)
      NS
      Ketosis9.1

      (2)
      9.1

      (2)
      NS
      Displaced abomasum9.1

      (2)
      4.5

      (1)
      NS
      1 Probios TC (Chr. Hansen, Milwaukee, WI). The DFM contained 5 × 109 cfu of yeast and 5 × 109 cfu of bacteria (2 specific Enterococcus faecium strains).
      During the prepartum period, blood glucose was similar between treatments (Table 7). On d 1 postpartum, there were also no significant differences; however, by d 7, cows consuming DFM had higher (P < 0.05) blood glucose than did control cows. There were no differences in NEFA concentrations between treatments for any of the times measured. However, during the prepartum period, there was a numerical tendency for DFM cows to have lower NEFA, and during the postpartum period, there was a numerical tendency for DFM cows to have have higher NEFA concentrations, when compared with controls. During the prepartum period, BHBA was lower (P < 0.01) for cows supplemented with DFM. Postpartum, these same trends continued.
      Table 7The effect of direct-fed microbial
      Probios TC (Chr. Hansen, Milwaukee, WI). The DFM contained 5×109 cfu of yeast and 5×109 cfu of bacteria (2 specific Enterococcus faecium strains).
      (DFM) supplementation on blood parameters pre- and postpartum
      Time relative calvingTreatment
      Control (n = 15)DFM (n = 14)SEMP
      ––Glucose (mg/dL)––
      −1 d72.476.42.3NS
      +1 d76.865.22.1NS
      +7 d57.365.72.70.04
      ––NEFA [μEq (oleic)/L]––
      −1 d886.9676.5106.4NS
      +1 d665.7793.4127.4NS
      +7 d559.9641.375.5NS
      ––BHBA [mg/Dl]––
      −1 d15.211.41.00.01
      +1 d15.812.21.40.09
      +7 d16.813.01.9NS
      1 Probios TC (Chr. Hansen, Milwaukee, WI). The DFM contained 5 × 109 cfu of yeast and 5 × 109 cfu of bacteria (2 specific Enterococcus faecium strains).

      Discussion

      Dry matter intake and milk production responses were consistent with those demonstrated in a previous study (
      • Nocek J.E.
      • Kautz W.P.
      • Leedle J.A.Z.
      • Block E.
      Direct-fed microbial supplementation on the performance of dairy cattle during the transition period.
      ).
      • Francisco C.C.
      • Chamberlain C.S.
      • Waldner D.N.
      • Wettemann R.P.
      • Spicer L.J.
      Propionibacteria fed to dairy cows: Effects on energy balance, plasma metabolites and hormones, and reproduction.
      reported a reduction in DMI and no effect on milk yield and FCM when cows were supplemented with Propionibacteria in the first 12 wk postpartum. Other combinations of microbials (
      • McGilliard M.L.
      • Stallings C.C.
      Increase milk yield of commercial dairy herds fed a microbial and enzyme supplement.
      ) have shown increases in milk production.
      • Gomez-Alarcon R.A.
      • Huber J.T.
      • Higginbatham G.E.
      • Wiersma F.
      • Ammon D.
      • Taylor B.
      Influence of feeding an Aspergillus oryzae culture on milk yields, eating patterns and body temperature of lactating cows.
      demonstrated an increase in milk yield to diets supplemented with Aspergillus oryzae, whereas several studies (
      • Harris Jr., B.
      • Van Horn H.H.
      • Manookian K.E.
      • Marshal S.P.
      • Taylor M.J.
      • Wilcox C.J.
      Sugarcane silage, sodium hydroxide- and steam pressure-treated sugarcane bagasse, corn silage, cottonseed hulls, sodium bicarbonate, and Aspergillus oryzae product in complete rations for lactating cows.
      ;
      • Denigan M.E.
      • Huber J.T.
      • Alhadhrami G.
      • Dehneh A.A.
      Influence of feeding varying levels of Amaferm® on performance of lactating dairy cows.
      ;
      • Sievert S.J.
      • Shaver R.D.
      Carbohydrate and Aspergillus oryzae effects on intake, digestion, and milk production of dairy cows.
      ) have shown no response. Yeast supplementation has been shown to increase DMI (
      • Erasmus L.J.
      • Botha P.M.
      • Kristner A.
      Effect of yeast culture supplement on production, rumen fermentation, and duodenal nitrogen flow in dairy cows.
      ;
      • Adams A.L.
      • Harris B.
      • Van Horn H.H.
      • Wilcox C.J.
      Effects of varying forage types on milk production responses to whole cottonseed, tallow and yeast.
      ) and milk (
      • Williams P.E.V.
      • Tait C.A.G.
      • Innes G.M.
      • Newbold C.J.
      Effects of inclusion of yeast culture (Saccharomyces cerevisiae plus growth medium) in the diet of dairy cows on milk yield and forage degradation and fermentation patterns in the rumens of steers.
      ;
      • Wohlt J.E.
      • Finkelstein A.D.
      • Chung C.H.
      Yeast culture to improve intake, nutrient digestibility and performance of dairy cattle during early lactation.
      ;
      • Piva G.S.
      • Belladonna S.
      • Fusconi G.
      • Sicbaldi F.
      Effects of yeast on dairy cow performance, ruminal fermentation, blood components, and milk manufacturing properties.
      ) in some studies with no effect in others (
      • Harris Jr., B.
      • Dorminey D.E.
      • Smith W.A.
      • Van Horn H.H.
      • Wilcox C.J.
      Effects of feather meal at two protein concentrations and yeast culture on production parameters in lactating dairy cows.
      ;
      • Swartz D.L.
      • Muller L.D.
      • Rogers G.W.
      • Varga G.A.
      Effect of yeast culture on performance of lactating dairy cows: A field study.
      ;
      • Wohlt J.E.
      • Corcione T.T.
      • Zajac P.K.
      Effect of yeast on feed intake and performance of cows fed diets based on corn silage during early lactation.
      ). The modes of action of the yeast and fungi as well as other bacteria can be quite variable, ranging from enhanced cellulolytic bacterial proliferation by providing unknown growth factors to increased substrate availability through added enzymatic digestion (
      • Martin S.A.
      • Nesbit D.J.
      Effect of direct-fed microbials on ruminal microbial fermentation.
      ). One possible mode of action for DFM in the present study is that they are providing a tonic level of lactic acid production in the rumen, which is used by specific lactic acid-utilizing bacteria. The result would be the production of sustained low and nondetectable concentrations of lactic acid in the rumen, supporting a basal level of lactic acid utilizers, which would tend to stabilize and increase pH, particularly nadir levels (
      • Owens F.N.
      • Secrist D.S.
      • Hill W.J.
      • Gill D.R.
      Acidosis in cattle.
      ;
      • Nocek J.E.
      • Kautz W.P.
      • Leedle J.A.Z.
      • Allman J.G.
      Ruminal supplementation of direct-fed microbials on diurnal pH variation and in situ digestion in dairy cattle.
      ). These rumen microbial changes support an environment conducive to increased forage digestibility and DMI, thus attributing to the production response. This study incorporated digestibility information to identify the ruminal response with a high corn silage diet as compared with the previous study (
      • Nocek J.E.
      • Kautz W.P.
      • Leedle J.A.Z.
      • Block E.
      Direct-fed microbial supplementation on the performance of dairy cattle during the transition period.
      ), which contained a high proportion of haylage.
      • McGilliard M.L.
      • Stallings C.C.
      Increase milk yield of commercial dairy herds fed a microbial and enzyme supplement.
      demonstrated a milk fat depression when supplementing cows with a combination of microbials; others (
      • Higginbotham G.E.
      • Collar C.A.
      • Aseltine M.S.
      • Bath D.L.
      Effect of yeast culture and Aspergillus oryzae extract on milk yield in a commercial dairy herd.
      ;
      • Wohlt J.E.
      • Corcione T.T.
      • Zajac P.K.
      Effect of yeast on feed intake and performance of cows fed diets based on corn silage during early lactation.
      ;
      • Francisco C.C.
      • Chamberlain C.S.
      • Waldner D.N.
      • Wettemann R.P.
      • Spicer L.J.
      Propionibacteria fed to dairy cows: Effects on energy balance, plasma metabolites and hormones, and reproduction.
      ) showed no reponse. In the present study, milk fat percentage was lower for cows supplemented with DFM; there was no effect on milk protein. This is inconsistent with the previous study (
      • Nocek J.E.
      • Kautz W.P.
      • Leedle J.A.Z.
      • Block E.
      Direct-fed microbial supplementation on the performance of dairy cattle during the transition period.
      ), where fat percentage was unaffected and protein was increased when the same product was tested. However, because, in the study, milk production was higher and fat yield was lower and did not differ, a probable cause for reduction in fat is dilution. Previous lactation fat percentages for the same cows assigned to this study tended to be higher for control cows than for DFM-supplemented cows (3.96 vs. 3.75%). In the assignment process, cows were balanced by previous lactation 305-d mature equivalent milk production, and no consideration was given to the fat test. It should be pointed out that although milk fat percentage was lower for DFM-supplemented cows compared with controls, there was no fat depression for either regimen. The primary difference between control and DFM-supplemented cows for fat percentage was associated with the first 2 wk postpartum (Figure 2).
      Elevated plasma glucose postpartum can be reflective of greater positive energy balance or the provision of more glucogenic precursors (
      • Vazquez-Anon M.
      • Bertics S.J.
      • Grummer R.C.
      The effect of dietary energy during mid to late lactation on liver triglyceride and lactation performance of dairy cows.
      ).
      • Francisco C.C.
      • Chamberlain C.S.
      • Waldner D.N.
      • Wettemann R.P.
      • Spicer L.J.
      Propionibacteria fed to dairy cows: Effects on energy balance, plasma metabolites and hormones, and reproduction.
      reported that the addition of Propionibacteria had no effect on plasma glucose.
      • Ghorbani G.R.
      • Morgavi D.P.
      • Beauchemin K.A.
      • Leedle J.A.Z.
      Effects of bacterial direct-fed microbials on ruminal fermentation, blood variables, and the microbial populations of feedlot cattle.
      reported no effect of a Propionibacterium and E. faecium on any blood variables in feedlot cattle. The prevalence of higher lactose concentrations in conjunction with higher milk production would correspond with the higher level of glucose in the blood. However, in the present study, the provision of nutrients appears to be associated with both higher intakes and greater partitioning of nutrients toward milk, as there was no effect of treatment on BW or BCS change and NEFA tended to be higher for DFM-supplemented cows. This was suspected in the previous study (
      • Nocek J.E.
      • Kautz W.P.
      • Leedle J.A.Z.
      • Block E.
      Direct-fed microbial supplementation on the performance of dairy cattle during the transition period.
      ); however, no BW or BCS were recorded. Although there were no statistical differences in NEFA levels, DFM-supplemented cows showed 19.2 and 14.5% higher concentrations on d 1 and 7 postpartum, respectively, compared with control cows.
      • Francisco C.C.
      • Chamberlain C.S.
      • Waldner D.N.
      • Wettemann R.P.
      • Spicer L.J.
      Propionibacteria fed to dairy cows: Effects on energy balance, plasma metabolites and hormones, and reproduction.
      reported similar plasma NEFA results in the first week postpartum for supplemented cows. Higher postpartum plasma NEFA levels were negatively correlated with prepartum intake (
      • Grummer R.R.
      Impact of changes in organic nutrient metabolism on feeding the transition cow.
      ), which is inconsistent with the results of this study. The reason for reduced BHBA levels for supplemented cows is not entirely understood but may be associated with more efficient use of nutrients for productive purposes. Elevated BHBA levels suggest that fatty acids are being oxidized and used as fuel (
      • Drackley J.K.
      Biology of dairy cows during the transition period: The final frontier?.
      ), suggesting that cows may be in greater negative energy balance (
      • Lean I.J.
      • Farver T.B.
      • Trout H.F.
      • Bruss M.L.
      • Galland J.C.
      • Baldwin R.L.
      • Holmberg C.A.
      • Weaver L.D.
      Time series cross-correlation analysis of postparturient relation ships among serum metabolites and yield variables in Holstein cows.
      ).

      Conclusions

      Cows receiving a specific supplemental DFM produced more milk and consumed more DM during the pre- and postpartum periods. However, they experienced a lower, but not depressed fat percentage compared with non-supplemented cows. Ruminal digestion of forage DM was increased in cows supplemented with DFM. The differences in elevation in blood glucose were increased, as was milk lactose concentration and milk production. However, NEFA and BHBA levels provided little insight into fatty acid mobilization and fat synthesis.

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