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The Importance of Glucose and How to Boost Production in Your Herd

August 26, 2021

As dairy producers and industry professionals, we know that today’s cows are more productive than ever. However, to maintain these increased milk yields and improved production efficiencies, we need to ensure cows have the resources they need to perform their best. This includes providing feedstuffs and strategies which promote adequate levels of glucose production in the cow.

Cows make most of their own glucose in the liver from the volatile fatty acid propionate, which comes from starch fermentation. We’ve already been promoting more glucose production in cows for decades by feeding them starch-rich grains. This practice shifts fermentation towards producing more propionate, and thus more glucose.

“Glucose fuels cows’ immune systems and is also a very important component in milk synthesis,” said Sara Kvidera, technical consultant, Elanco Animal Health. “Glucose molecules convert to lactose, and lactose is what drives milk production in dairy cattle. So if cows have a glucose shortage, milk production in the herd will be limited.”

The many impacts of glucose shortages When cows calve, they go through a variety of challenges that can generate tissue damage and inflammation. This immune response requires glucose as a fuel, and if the inflammation isn’t resolved quickly, the need for glucose increases. The immune system and milk production system will then compete for glucose, as both systems need this vital nutrient to function properly.

Dairy producers can avoid unnecessary inflammation (and thus a drain on glucose) by keeping a clean environment that prevents infection, minimizing psychological stress on their animals, and always ensuring feed availability.

“Glucose availability for the cow is essential, not only from a milk production standpoint but from an animal welfare standpoint as well. We should minimize unnecessary immune activations and make sure cows have the proper fuel they need to fight disease,” said Dr. Kvidera.

Ketosis is caused by a shortage of glucose, as poorly transitioning ketotic cows often have additional diseases and challenges which activate the immune system and use large amounts of glucose.1

If cows are regularly testing positive for or showing signs of ketosis on your dairy, Dr. Kvidera recommends taking a close look at your herd’s nutrition and management program and adjusting inputs and processes as recommended by a local nutritionist or veterinarian.

Give cows the energy they need without breaking the bank Dairy cattle have an enormous appetite for energy to support the conversion of feedstuffs into large amounts of high quality, nutrient-packed milk. Regardless of the feedstuffs for lactating and dry cows, adding a product like Rumensin® to the diet helps cows get more energy from their feed.

Through increasing concentrations of propionate-producing bacteria, Rumensin can also help a cow produce more glucose. This gives her a valuable, flexible energy source and more energy from every pound of feed.

By giving both the immune and milk production systems the correct energy source needed to thrive, Rumensin adds value throughout the cow’s lactation cycle: • During transition and early lactation ◦ More energy from every pound of feed ◦ No change in dry matter intake (DMI) while cows are in negative energy balance • Mid-lactation and late lactation ◦ More milk per pound of feed ◦ Once energy balance is achieved, DMI may decrease • During the dry period ◦ More efficient use of feed to maintain body condition2

This feed additive has other benefits as well, which include helping prevent and control coccidiosis in calves and heifers, and promoting increased heifer weight gain during all stages of post-weaning development.

When in doubt, call your local experts “Immune systems and nutrition programs are complicated, and simply pushing more glucose to cows won’t fix all of a dairy producer’s problems,” said Dr. Kvidera. Consult your local nutritionist when designing a nutrition program. He or she can help you determine the exact nutrient balance for your herd to perform at its peak and suggest management practices to minimize unnecessary health challenges.

Your veterinarian can also help you develop protocols that optimize herd health, including routine vaccination schedules, strategic deworming programs and effective disease treatment methods.

Finally, Dr. Kvidera reminds dairy producers and herd nutritionists to reach out to an Elanco representative to learn more about how Rumensin can support glucose availability in cows at all stages.

The label contains complete use information, including cautions and warnings. Always read, understand and follow the label and use directions.

CAUTION: Consumption by unapproved species or feeding undiluted may be toxic or fatal. Do not feed to veal calves.

Feeding Directions

For Dairy Cows: For increased milk production efficiency (production of marketable solids-corrected milk per unit of feed intake) Total Mixed Rations (“complete feed”): Feed continuously to dry and lactating dairy cows a total mixed ration (“complete feed”) containing 11 to 22 g/ton monensin on a 100% DM basis.

Component Feeding Systems (including top dress): Feed continuously to dry and lactating cows a Type C medicated feed containing 11 to 400 g/ton monensin. The Type C medicated feed must be fed in a minimum of 1.0 lb of feed/cow/day to provide 185 to 660 mg/hd/day monensin to lactating cows or 115 to 410 mg/hd/day monensin to dry cows. This provides cows with similar amounts of monensin they would receive by consuming total mixed rations containing 11 to 22 g/ton monensin on a 100% DM basis.

Growing beef steers and heifers on pasture (stocker, feeder, and slaughter) or in a dry lot, and replacement beef and dairy heifers:

For increased rate of weight gain: Feed 50 to 200 mg/hd/day in at least 1.0 lb of Type C Medicated Feed. Or, after the 5th day, feed 400 mg/hd/day every other day in 2.0 lbs of Type C Medicated Feed. The Type C Medicated Feed must contain 15 to 400 g/ton of monensin (90% DM basis). Do not self feed.

For the prevention and control of coccidiosis due to Eimeria bovis and Eimeria zuernii: Feed at a rate to provide 0.14 to 0.42 mg/lb of body weight/day, depending upon severity of challenge, up to a maximum of 200 mg/hd/day. The Type C Medicated Feed must contain 15 to 400 g/ton of monensin (90% DM basis).

Type C free-choice medicated feeds: All Type C free-choice medicated feeds containing Rumensin must be manufactured according to an FDA-approved formula/specification. When using a formula/specification published in the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR), a Medicated Feed Mill license is not required. Use of Rumensin in a proprietary formula/specification not published in the CFR requires prior FDA approval and a Medicated Feed Mill License.

1Amaral-Phillips DM. Treatments for dairy cows with ketosis. University of Kentucky College of Agriculture, Food and Environment. Available at: Accessed: July 29, 2021. 2Symanowski JT, Green HB, Wagner JR, et al. Milk production and efficiency of cows fed monensin. J Dairy Sci. 1999;82(Suppl. 1).

Rumensin, Elanco and the diagonal bar logo are trademarks of Elanco or its affiliates. © 2021 Elanco. PM-US-21-2281


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