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Enhancing Dry Cow Ration With QLF DCAD Jumpstart- Iowa Farm Trial

January 21, 2021


A 1200 head dairy herd was started on QLF JumpStart DCAD that had been on a different DCAD product.  The ration was balanced with corn silage, grass hay, straw, a protein mix, and 3.6 lbs of Jumpstart to achieve a DCAD (mEq/100 g) of -10.  Urine pHs were read with an Apera AI311 PH60 Meter twice a week for 3 months from the prefresh cows (going into 2+ lactation, >6 days in prefresh group).  Blood NEFAs were analyzed from animals between -21 and -2 days before the actual calving date.  In postfresh group, ketones and NEFAs (7-14 DIM), and total blood Ca (0-3 DIM) were analyzed.  Ketones were analyzed on-site with Precision Xtra monitor while NEFAs and Ca were analyzed by Marshfield Labs.

Prefresh Group

Using a Penn State Shaker Box, sorting was measured before and after the addition of JumpStart. The top screen showed >6% difference over 9.5 hours before JumpStart, and 2.5% after JumpStart was fed, which indicated that sorting was reduced. Urine pHs remained constant during the trial period indicating that Urine pH was maintained within the recommended range for cows receiving acidified prefresh diets after DCAD JumpStart was introduced.





Postfresh Group

Blood Ca showed an improvement from 2.07 to 2.12 after JumpStart was started in the herd. Postfresh NEFA improved as well with the number of cows in the normal group (lactation 2+) increasing from 41 to 88%. The metabolic indicators indicate improvements in calcium and energy metabolism.


Milk production and health data were evaluated for the Iowa Field Trial herd, to compare pre-and post- DCAD JumpStart performance.  The “Pre”-period was February 2019 to July 2019 (6 months).  The “Post”- period was also 6 months, from August 2019 to January 2020.  Expansion began in the herd during fall 2019 – note the increased calvings beginning in October 2019.  This expansion resulted in an overcrowded pre-fresh pen.


Improved Milk Post-DCAD Jumpstart

DairyComp 305 data was evaluated for the herd, to compare milk production from the Pre- and Post- DCAD Jumpstart periods. Data was categorized by lactation group (Lactation # 1, 2, 3+, or All), and Days in Milk (days 1-40, 41-100, and 101-200). All lactation groups had improved milk production post-DCAD JumpStart inclusion. Improvements in milk production for lactation groups 2 and 3+ were larger than group 1. This is to be expected, as first-calf heifers must partition energy toward growth needs in addition to milk production. Across Days 1-200, improvements in lbs of milk were +4, +9, and +13, for Lactation Groups 1, 2, and 3+ respectively.


Earlier Peaks, Fewer Days Open

Post- DCAD JumpStart, Peak DIM was reduced for all groups. Although 1st calf heifers had the smallest increase in milk production (shown in the previous graph), they had a large reduction in days to peak. Earlier peaks are a good indicator postcalving intake and energy status in early lactation cows. Reducing days to peak extends high levels of milk and enhances overall lactation productivity. Metabolic status was improved post-DCAD JumpStart, as shown by the increase in blood calcium and % Normal Postfresh NEFA for this herd. Improved metabolic status provides more energy for maintenance, milk, and reproductive needs, resulting in more milk and fewer days open – exactly what was shown in this herd. Timely breed-backs help maintain a normal lactation efficiency and improve the cows’ long-term profitability.




Reduced DA’s Over Time

Post-DCAD JumpStart, cows had fewer DA’s. The incidence of DA’s was highly variable prior to DCAD JumpStart inclusion. Although the herd had an increased number of calvings post-DCAD JumpStart due to expansion, occurrence of DA’s was markedly reduced after July 2019. Maximizing DMI to maintain energy status and rumen fill during the pre- and post-fresh period is essential to minimizing occurrence of DA’s. During the prefresh period, inclusion of the DCAD JumpStart liquid supplement reduced ration sorting against long particles, as shown by the Penn State Shaker Box data in this report. Long particle consumption is key to maintaining normal cud chewing and rumen fill. Also, improving post-calving calcium metabolism helps stimulate DMI. After DCAD JumpStart inclusion, cows had increased blood calcium levels, as shown in this report. Improving pre-fresh rumen efficiency and post-fresh calcium status helps maximize DMI after calving to reduce post-calving health concerns such as DA’s.


Reduced Metritis Over Time

After July 2019, metritis occurrence declined to below the goal of 10%. Very large amounts of calcium are used by the immune system around the time of calving. As shown in this report, cows had higher levels of blood calcium after DCAD JumpStart inclusion. Improving blood calcium levels post-calving helps provide more calcium to meet the cow’s needs for maintenance, milk, metabolic, and immune functions.




Take Away Points

• Urine pH very consistent transitioning from previous product

• Blood Ca higher, postfresh NEFA improved

• Straw, corn silage diet showed less sorting

• Improvements in early-lactation milk production

• Fewer DA’s & Less Metritis over time

• Improved calcium and metabolic status enhances cow productivity!



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