Dairy cows are constantly at risk of being challenged by Escherichia coli mastitis, Salmonella infections, mycotoxin insults and more. The impact of even a minor immune challenge could be significant, especially if lipopolysaccharides (LPS) are reduced. In fact, 1/10 less of the LPS could result in 2.78 kg of milk loss per day.1 At $70 per hectoliter, that's $1.95 lost per cow per day.
In order to combat an immune challenge, an active immune system requires 4 lbs. of sugar over a 24-hour period. The sugar meant for milk production will instead be used to support this immune function, reducing total milk production and profitability.
Research studies have reported improved immune function of activated leukocytes when animals were supplemented with chromium.2,3,4
A recent study conducted with lactating Holstein cows observed the following:
INCREASED CIRCULATING NEUTROPHIL COUNTS IN LIPOPOLYSACCHARIDE (LPS) - administered cows supplemented with chromium (Figure 1).5
Figure 1. Effect of chromium supplementation on circulating neutrophils following an LPS challenge or pair-feeding in lactating dairy cows5
Research at Cornell University suggests that:
SUPPLEMENTAL CHROMIUM ENHANCED IMMUNE RESPONSES in early lactation to bacterial challenges in the uterus by increasing neutrophil proliferation (Table 1).6
Table 1. Effect of chromium supplementation on endometrial cytology6
1Neutrophil > 10%
Increased neutrophil proliferation more effectively cleared infections, which resulted in fewer cows with subclinical endometritis – a leading cause of reduced first service insemination conception rates. Ultimately, improving overall herd reproductive health should contribute to lower veterinary/medical costs, lower improved conception rates, and more optimal milk production.
Dairy cows experience frequent immune challenges, as bacterial insults can originate from many different situations. Economic consequences of sickness are decreased milk, inefficient feed utilization, poor reproduction and increased health costs. An activated immune system requires energy in the form of glucose and the literature suggests glucose homeostasis is disrupted during an endotoxin challenge.
1Kvidera, S. K. 2017. Glucose requirements of an activated immune system in lactating Holstein cows. J. Dairy Sci. 100:3, 2360-2374.
2Moonsie-Shageer, S., and D. N. Mowat. 1993. Effect of level of supplemental chromium on performance, serum constituents, and immune status of stressed feeder calves. J. Anim. Sci. 71:232-238.
3Chang, X., B. A. Mallard, and D. N. Mowat. 1996. Effects of chromium on health status, blood neutrophil phagocytosis and in vitro lymphocyte blastogenesis of dairy cows. Vet. Immunol. Immunopathol. 52:37-52.
4Lee, D. N., C. F. Weng, H. T. Yen, T. F. Shen, and B. J. Chen. 2000. Effects of chromium supplementation and lipopolysaccharide injection on physiological responses of weanling pigs. Asian-Australasian. J. Anim. Sci. 13:528.534.
5Horst, E. A., S. K. Kvidera, E. J. Mayorga, C. S. Shouse, M. Al-Qaisi, M. J. Dickson, J. Ydstie, H. A. Ramirez, A. F. Keating, D. J. Dickson, K. E. Griswold, and L. H. Baumgard. 2018. Effect of chromium on bioenergetics and leukocyte dynamics following immunoactivation in lactating Holstein cows. J. Dairy Sci. 101:1-16.
6Yasui, T., J. A. A. McArt, C. M. Tyan, R. O. Gilbert, D. V. Nydam, F. Valdez, K. E. Griswold, and T. R. Overton. 2014. Effects of chromium propionate supplementation during the periparturient period and early lactation on metabolism, performance, and cytological endometritis in dairy cows. J. Dairy Sci. 97:6400-6410.
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