October 10, 2019
Benefit of Balancing Amino Acids for Transition Cows
Guest article by Jessica Tekippe, R&D and Technical Services Manager, Ajinomoto Animal Nutrition NA, Inc.
Balancing for amino acids is an increasingly common ration management tool beneficial to dairy cows. Amino acids make up proteins and have various roles, and lysine and methionine in particular—first two limiting amino acids for dairy cows—have a huge impact in improving a cow’s lactating performance, reproduction, and immune system. Since lysine and methionine are often deficient in typical feedstuffs, using rumen-protected lysine can help satisfy this deficiency. This is especially true for transition cows, when Dry Matter Intake (DMI) tends to be low. Using a concentrated nutrient such as rumen-protected lysine will free up ration space for other feedstuffs to benefit transition cows.
During the transition period, cows experience reduced DMI. This is due to the fetus growth, hormonal, and other physiological changes, resulting in negative energy balance and metabolizable protein balance, as demonstrated by Figure 1. During the last 7 to 10 days of pregnancy, cows mobilize 1,000 grams of tissue every day; at the end of gestation, the uterus is extracting 72% of amino acids in circulation. If the ration fails to supply sufficient amino acids during this critical period, milk production and reproductive performance will be compromised and metabolic diseases will likely increase.
To investigate the effect of supplementing rumen-protected lysine in transition cows, a trial comparing the lactating performance, DMI, and health conditions of control group (n=10) and lysine supplementation group (n=10) was conducted. 20 pregnant Holstein cows were assigned to one of two groups 21 days prior to calving and were housed at individual stall until parturition, and then the cows were moved to free stall barns. All were milked twice daily. As Figure 2 illustrates, the lysine supplementation group yielded higher milk levels compared to the control group.
Furthermore, the lysine supplementation had a positive effect on DMI and health conditions. Table below shows an improvement in DMI, NEFA, and liver functionality index in the lysine supplementation group compared to the control group.
Balancing for amino acids through lysine supplementation is vital for cows to overcome risks and hurdles during the transition period. This allows cows to remain healthy by minimizing the negative metabolizable protein balance, thereby reaching the maximum milk potential. The use of commercially available rumen-protected lysine product such as AjiPro-L can help dairy producers achieve this goal and increase income over feed cost.