Benefits of Direct Fed Microbials
High milk production per cow contributes to the profitability of a dairy farm. Farmers use a number of methods to increase milk production in dairy cows including selective breeding, feeding grain-based diets, exposing cows to longer periods of artificial light, injecting growth hormones, and supplementing with direct fed microbials (DFMs) in daily rations. The successful dairyman of the future will be looking for natural alternatives that give them more milk during the entire life of the animal with fewer health issues. This will give the dairyman more profitable lactations per animal.
Direct Fed Microbials (DFMs) are feed supplements which contain live (viable) naturally occurring microogranisms. These microorganisms are part of normal mircro flora of an animal's gut that helps in maintenance of normal appetite and digestion. DFMs are also called probiotics, which includes good bacteria and yeast. The microorganisms produce B-Vitamins and enzymes which help to maintain normal appetitie and breakdown of nutrients into simpler forms resulting in increased feed intake, better feed conversion ratio, wieght gain and increased milk production. They also potentially compete with pathogenic (disease causing) microorganisms for nutrients and space in the gut. This ultimately checks the number of pathogenic microogranisms in the gut and helps in recovery from digestive problems such as diarrhea. In this way, DFMs also help to maintain the healthy microbial balance in an animal's gut and enhance immunity.
In several experiements, lactate-utilizing and/or lactate-producing bacteria have been shown to improve the feed efficiency, daily gain and increased milk production with little change in milk composition. In another published study, it has been suggested that the feeding of Lactobacillus based DFM's in beef cattle will decrease the fecal shedding of E. Coli 0157:H7, which is one of the important causes of severe bloody diarrhea in humans due to eating undercooked ground beef contaminated during slaughter or grounding. In this way, the strategy of reducing the number of E. coli 0157:H7 by using DFM's in cattle will improve food safety.
Direct Fed Microbials (DFMs) helps in improving the efficiency of feed utilization and reducing nutrient loss in dairy cattle. Supplementing dairy rations with DFMs can also be an excellent alternative approach to increase the productivity if there are concerns of using growth hormones.
The most common microorganisms included in DFM products are Lactobacillus, Enterococcus, Bacillus, Propionibacterium, and Saccharomyces species. It is also a good idea to feed inulin along with the DFM supplement because it acts as a food source for proliferation of good bacteria in the gut. In addition, a good source of digestive enzymes such as protease, cellulase, amylase, lipase, and pectinase in the ration aids in efficient digestion and reduction in nutrient loss in cattle.
Dr. Vijay Sasi (DVM)
- Shahani KM. Beneficial properties of Lactobacillus acidophilus DDS-1 and other cultures. Department of Food Science and Technology, University of Nebraska.
- Nocek JE, Kautz WP (2006). Direct Fed Microbials Supplementation on Ruminal Digestion, Health, and Performance of Pre- and Postpartum Cattle. Journal of Dairy Science.
- Nocek JE, Kautz WP, Leedle AZ, Block E (2003). Direct Fed Microbials. Supplementation on the Performance of Dairy Cattle During the Transition Period. Journal of Dairy Science.
- Krehbiel CR, Rust SR, Zhang G, Gilliland SE (2003). Bacterial direct-fed microbials in ruminal diets: Performance response and mode of action. Journal of Animal Science.