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Feed Additives in Dairy Cattle

By Thomas H. Herdt, DVM, MS, DACVN, DACVIM, Professor, Department of Large Animal Clinical Sciences and Diagnostic Center for Population and Animal Health, Michigan State University

Many non-nutrient feed additives are marketed and approved for use in dairy cattle (see Table: Feed Additives Included for Non-Nutrient Benefits).

Feed Additives Included for Non-Nutrient Benefits

Additive

Effect

Feeding Rate

High Probability of Positive Economic Return in General Feeding Situations

Rumensin

Increased feed efficiency, improved energy metabolism

200–400 mg/day

Sodium bicarbonate and other buffers

Improved feed consumption, stabilization of rumen pH, increased butterfat production

0.75% of dry matter

Yeast culture

Improved feed consumption, improved fiber digestion

Variable, consult manufacturer directions

High Probability of Positive Economic Return in Specific Problem Situations

Strong anion additives for prepartum diets

Improved calcium homeostasis, milk fever prevention

Variable, calculate DCADa, monitor urine pH and dry-matter intake, late gestation only

Propylene glycol

Improved energy metabolism, ketosis prevention

300–500 mL/day, late gestation and early lactation only

Niacin

Improved lipid metabolism, improved rumen fermentation, increased feed efficiency and milk component concentrations

6 g/day, include protected and unprotected sources

Mycotoxin neutralizers

Many products available; effectiveness best demonstrated against aflatoxin; effectiveness against trichothecene toxins including DONb or vomitoxin needs further evaluation.

Variable, consult manufacturer instructions

Protected choline

Improved lipid metabolism, fatty liver and ketosis prevention

15 g/day, late gestation and early lactation only

a DCAD (dietary cation-anion difference)

b DON (deoxynivalenol)

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