Optimizing Fertility and Performance of Dairy and Beef Cows

Carotenoids are naturally occurring pigments found in plants that play a key role in optimizing cattle health and reproduction. Beta carotene is the most common type of carotene in plants and considered a provitamin A or a substance that the animal needs to produce vitamin A. It also serves as a powerful antioxidant to reduce the effects of oxidative stress that can negatively affect fertility and performance of dairy and beef cows.

More specifically, beta carotene serves an important role in protecting the corpus luteum and promotes the synthesis of the pregnancy hormone, progesterone, which supports stronger heats and greater success of implantation of the fertilized egg. In addition, an improvement in udder health and colostrum quality are other research supported benefits of ensuring adequate beta carotene levels in cows.

Since beta-carotene is only found in plants and cannot be synthesized by cattle, requirements of this nutrient must be fulfilled by their diet. The natural Beta-carotene content of forages and feeds in cattle diets varies greatly and depend on source and quality. Beta-carotene is degraded with exposure to oxygen and light during preservation and storage so fermented silages, low quality grasses, cereal grains and harvested hays are typically lower in beta carotene content. Therefore, in diets lacking adequate nutrients, supplementation is needed to ensure optimal health and performance. 

One way to determine adequate beta carotene levels is to measure the beta carotene content of blood serum. The DSMTMAS lab service provides beta carotene testing and interpretation for recommendations for proper beta carotene supplementation programs depending on cow stage of production and supplemental needs.

Our Optimum Vitamin Nutrition (OVN) concept is about feeding animals with high quality vitamins in the right amount, appropriate to their life stage and growing condition. OVN guidelines for beta carotene recommendations for calves is 100 mg/kg of milk replacer; rearing heifers and beef cows is 300-500 mg/h/d; transition cows, far off dry cows, close up, and 4-6 weeks before calving (heifers) is 500-1000 mg/h/d; and sheep and goats 30-50 mg/h/d.

For more information, please contact a DSM representative.

Published on

16 May 2022

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