iCheck Audit Program: On-Farm Beta Carotene Analysis

Beta carotene levels are often sufficient in cows fed green chop or provided adequate levels of green forages, since carotenoids are what give grasses its green color. However, data from a North American dsm-firmenich survey reported that the majority of high yielding dairy cows tested for beta carotene blood levels were considered highly deficient and at the critical stage of follicle development due to diets containing feeds such as harvested and stored forages, by-products, and cereal grains that commonly have low beta carotene levels.

It’s important to evaluate circulating beta carotene levels in reproducing cattle and ensure levels are in the optimal range to contribute to reproductive and colostrum quality benefits. Beta carotene is a potent antioxidant that plays a key role inside of the follicle and corpus luteum to protect from oxidative stress and is important for local conversion of vitamin A inside the follicle. With sufficient beta carotene concentrations in the follicular phase, cows resume to cycling earlier and have more intense estrus. In addition, during the luteal phase cows have faster embryo development, increased progesterone production, and less embryo mortality and higher pregnancy rates have been reported in cows with higher levels of circulating beta carotene.

As part of dsm-firmenich's beta carotene iCheck audit program, blood can be analyzed for circulating beta carotene concentration on-farm and in a quick and easy process. Our dsm-firmenich team provides this service by utilizing a BioAnalyt iCheck machine and research supported programs to provide supplemental beta carotene when needed to target optimal response for reproduction and colostrum quality benefits. 

Step One: Blood Collection

Pull tail blood samples from 5-10% of the pre-fresh pen.

Step Two: Transfer Blood into purple-top (EDTA) tubes

Step Three: Separation

Transfer blood from purple-top tube into reagent vial and let separate for 5 minutes

Step Four: Beta Carotene Reading

Inset reagent vial into reader and within seconds beta carotene concentration is provided

Step Five: Interpretation

<1.5 µg/mL = deficient
1.5 – 3.5 µg/mL = marginal
>3.5 µg/mL = optimum

Step Six: Recommendation

In marginal or deficient herd, 20 g of active beta carotene in pre-fresh or close up cows prior to calving is often recommended. However, our team will work on farm and put together a customized program for your herd that will depend on starting herd beta carotene status and the number of days to calving to ensure appropriate levels of beta carotene is provided for optimal response. 

For more information on beta carotene and on farm testing services, please contact a dsm-firmenich representative.

Published on

19 June 2023


  • Ruminants


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