Milk fever is one of the most important metabolic diseases in dairy cattle. Reducing the dietary cation/anion balance (DCAD) with anionic salts is a common prevention strategy. However, many small European farms cannot use total mixed rations (TMR) in the close-up period. Including anionic salts in compound feeds can result in feed refusals and moderate inclusions to preserve feed palatability results in insufficient DCAD reduction. Rumen-protected rice bran induces the adaptation of Ca metabolism in dairy cows by a reduction of Ca intake and by a reduction of the availability of dietary Ca. In the presence of a negative control, rumen-protected rice bran (2.8 kg/day) was compared with a lowered DCAD diet (from 269 to 4 meq/kg DM) in their effect to prevent milk fever. In a randomized block design, 45 multiparous Holstein cows joined the trial sequentially from 21 days before the expected calving date and were observed until the 8th week of lactation. Feed and nutrient intakes were recorded, and Ca, P, Mg in serum and urine, urine pH, serum NEFA and milk production in early lactation were compared. Feeding rumen-protected rice bran before calving improved the recovery of calcaemia after calving and had a positive effect on DMI after calving. The moderately low DCAD diet did not positively influence serum Ca at calving. Calcaemia recovered even later than in control, and cows showed reduced DMI post-calving and higher NEFA levels in the first 36 h after calving. This moderate reduction of DCAD did not provide an intermediate prevention level indicating that DCAD needs to be reduced to the recommended levels to prevent milk fever. Rumen-protected rice bran may be a suitable feed to reduce hypocalcaemia post-partum and can be included in pre-calving compound feeds representing a palatable alternative to anionic salts.
- anion difference
- milk fever
- dry period
Martin-Tereso, J., ter Wijlen, H., van Laar, H., & Verstegen, M. W. A. (2014). Peripartal calcium homoeostasis of multiparous dairy cows fed rumen-protected rice bran or a lowered dietary cation/anion balance diet before calving. Journal of Animal Physiology and Animal Nutrition, 98(4), 775-784. https://doi.org/10.1111/jpn.12137