Recent studies demonstrate significant productivity benefits in dairy cattle

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Submitted by Arm & Hammer Animal and Food Production

What effect can feeding a Bacillus-based feed additive have on health, performance, and milk production efficiency in dairy cows? Two recent studies set out to answer these critical questions.

The first study was conducted by Arm & Hammer Animal and Food Production in conjunction with Oklahoma State University to determine the effect of CERTILLUS™, a Bacillus-based feed additive, on multiple performance metrics when fed to lactating dairy cows.

Twenty-eight Holstein cows were assigned to one of two treatment groups for a 25-week study. One half of the cows received a control diet consisting of alfalfa hay, whole cottonseed and concentrate. The second half of the cows received the control diet plus 2 billion cfu/head/day of Bacillus coming from CERTILLUS. Cows were housed together but fed individually using electronic feeders.

The second study was field-based, and conducted at a commercial farm in New York state. Just over 2,300 Holstein cows were split into groups by lactation number and average milk production and then randomly allocated to control and treated pens. In total, 1,160 cows were on the CERTILLUS-treated diet and 1,142 cows were on the control diet throughout the course of the study.

These two trials led to three key takeaways:

  1. Cows receiving the Bacillus-based feed additive produced more energy-corrected milk per day.

In the Oklahoma State trial, CERTILLUS-fed cows produced a statistically significant 4.1 lbs. more energy corrected milk (ECM) per day than control cows, which was driven by an increase in milk fat (MF) percentage. MF was 4.0% for control cows and 4.4% for CERTILLUS cows.
By the end of the New York trial, CERTILLUS-fed cows produced 3.3 lbs. more ECM per day than control animals—another statistically significant difference. In this case, the improvement in ECM production was driven by milk volume, as component concentrations were not different between the treated and control groups.

  1. Cows receiving the Bacillus-based feed additive had improved milk production efficiency.

In the Oklahoma State trial, CERTILLUS-fed cows had fewer feeding events and reduced feed intake compared to control animals. Combined, the improved production of ECM and moderate reduction in feed intake contributed to a 15% improvement in milk production efficiency with CERTILLUS supplementation.

  1. Cows receiving the Bacillus-based feed additive had significantly lower concentrations of blood inflammatory markers.

In the New York trial, cows fed CERTILLUS had significantly lower concentrations of two different blood inflammatory markers, haptoglobin and lipopolysaccharide binding protein (LBP). While neither haptoglobin nor LBP were at levels to cause concern of clinical disease in this trial, these results suggest that systemic inflammation was reduced in CERTILLUS-fed cows by the end of the trial.

These trials, together with other studies conducted by Arm & Hammer Animal and Food Production, have shown that the Bacillus-based feed additive, CERTILLUS, positively influences all three pillars of a resilient cow: pathogen control, rumen function and hindgut integrity.

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