2013-10-04  facebook twitter rss

Glucose Aid – Bridges The Energy Gap

Harbro’s Glucose Aid has been used to bridge the ‘energy balance’ and help reduce the calving interval to 391 days in Robin White’s 140-cow Holstein herd at Hightae Farm, Castle Douglas in south-west Scotland.

The last few summers have been so poor in terms of weather that forage quality has been very variable.
“I had been having problems with the cows in relation to energy and fertility. I was struggling to see cows in heat and the cows that had been AI’d were coming back again to the bull.” said Mr White.

Robin White

Robin White

The first cut silage of 2012 was pretty good whilst the second cut was poor so the two silages were mixed, bringing down the overall energy content. It was not the driest silage either and there had been a small degree of soil contamination.

“I had been using a protected fat type product to add energy into the diet. After four to six weeks, there was no improvement in the fertility.”

Stuart Cameron, Harbro sales manager advised the replacement of the fat product in the ration with Glucose Aid and Mr White said that “An instant response was seen.”

In the early weeks of lactation, cows can suffer from an ‘energy gap’ that is the cause of ketosis and metabolic problems in dairy cows post-calving and into early lactation.

Glucose Aid is unique in that it has a different mode of action compared to other products used in this nutritional area for dairies. A novel glucose supplement, it is designed to bypass the rumen and boost blood glucose levels in early lactation. By safely providing high levels of energy in its most readily available form, excess mobilisation of body fat can be limited thus reducing strain on the liver.

The liver can quickly become ‘choked’ with fat in early lactation and lead to the typical symptoms associated with fatty liver syndrome (ketosis) such as reduced intake, poor fertility and a slower return to positive energy balance.

“We have been feeding 0.4kg Glucose Aid per head per day since then and have never looked back. Overall, they are bulling no bother and are holding to AI fantastically. In June 2012, our calving interval was 418 days and 12 months later, it has dropped by 27 days to 391.”

As well as providing a unique solution to the energy gap in early lactation, Glucose Aid also incorporates specific biologically active additives that enhance the key hormone signals required for improved fertility as well as aid liver function by helping it process and clean out excess fat deposits.

Cows with clinical or more commonly, sub-clinical ketosis will have decreased immunity leaving them more susceptible to fatty livers, metritis, mastitis, milk fever, staggers, displaced abomasums and infertility.

“The overall health of the cows is fantastic and this would be confirmed by the vet and the AI results. Their coats look very nice, the cows are content and this is evident by their diet and their dung.”

“Their feet are also a lot better. I do a lot of routine trimming myself and as long as I keep up with it, there are no lame cows in the herd.”

“I like to keep things straightforward and as simple as possible” says Mr White who feeds his herd of 140 Holstein cows a PMR of silage, blend, minerals, Glucose Aid and straw. Mycosorb A+ Farm Pack has been added this season to mop up any mycotoxins coming from straw or silage.

“We are just moving on to second cut silage alone which I had been apprehensive about but the cows are still performing to a good degree.”

The herd is split into high and low yielders: highs are kept inside and fed for 28 litres with Harbro Falcon 18 nuts in the parlour, whilst lows go out to grass in the summer.

“I trust the advice that I get from Stuart Cameron who provides a monthly costing service and also provides my nutritional advice.”

Dedication to cow management and routine visits by Steve Millar of Dunmuir Vets combined with the nutritional package at Hightae has enabled a significant improvement in performance.

“Rather than chasing volume of milk, we made the conscious decision to get the fertility right, get them cycling and back into calf, and this has paid dividends.” says Mr White.

Based on a 27 day reduction in calving index, which is worth £3.50-4.00 for each day, over 140 cows, this equates to £13,000 to £15,000 per year to the business.

Mr White is feeding 0.4kg to his 80 high yielders, which is approximately 12 tonnes of Glucose Aid per year.

If we assume that Glucose Aid costs £100/ tonne more than the protected fat that Mr White was previously using, he has invested £1200 to get a £13,000 return, a 10:1 return on investment.

This family-run farm is situated on the outskirts of Castle Douglas where the herd comprises 125 milking cows and 17 dry cows. They are yielding 8500kgs milk, with 3.98% butterfat and 3.18% protein.

The graph notes the reduction in ketosis. Over a period of four months and following the introduction of Glucose Aid, there was a 20% reduction in all cows with ketosis.

The graph notes the reduction in ketosis. Over a period of four months and following the introduction of Glucose Aid, there was a 20% reduction in all cows with ketosis.

April through into July is a slightly quieter time for calving with the bulk of cows calving from July/August through to Christmas. “When forage stocks were tight last year, we were quite hard on culling older cows out the herd with the result that we have a fairly young herd and a lot of these heifers will be calving before Christmas.”

A few weeks after calving, the vet tests the cows’ bloods for energy to check that the diet is correct. From the CIS recordings, the herd currently has a ketosis risk of 6.4%, which was previously sitting at 15%.

Mr White says that “Harbro’s feed has by far the best quality ingredients and it certainly shows by how well the livestock look”.

“I would find it very difficult not to use Glucose Aid, indeed I would be extremely reluctant to take it out the diet.”

Harbro

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