Nutrition plays a big role in the performance of reproduction for dairy cows. Essential fatty acids (EFAs) when offered as rumen inert fat can help to improve immune systems and promote greater reproductive success.
EFAs cannot be produced using other available nutrients or chemical pathway by the animals.
They must be provided by diet.
Several feedstuffs like cottonseeds or soybeans contain various levels of EFAs but they are often altered in the rumen through biohydrogenation which makes it useless to meet daily nutrition requirements.
Hence, it is important for diets to include research proven feed ingredients containing omega-3 and omega-6 EFAs which are protected so that it remain available for absorption from the intestine.
EFAs have 3 role that significantly impact reproduction and immune function:
Helps in production of specific reproductive hormones like progesterone which will help to enhance physical signs of estrus and ovarian follicle growth.
Helps to produce prostagladins which will help establish estrus cycle.
Promote maintenance and function of cellular membrane.
Immune Function And Reproduction
Cows with strong immune function are healthier and more productive.
They have fewer metabolic disorders and other health problems.
On the other hand, cows with lower immune function will have more health problems.
For example, cows with milk fever are 5 times more likely to contract clinical mastitis as compared to cows without milk fever.
Research has also shown that cows that had clinical mastitis during the first 45 days postpartum are 2.7 times greater risk of abortion within the next 90 days as compared to those without mastitis.
Effect Of EFAs On Reproduction
Studies have shown that omega-3 and omega-6 EFAs in transition diet improve reproductive parameters linked to improved immune function such as:
Reduced embryonic death
Improved reproductive performance
Higher pregnancy rates
Improved metabolic performance during transition period
In recent times, it is shown that targeted addition of omega-3 and omega-6 EFAs, especially during transition period positively influence cow health as well as productivity.
During the trial, cows fed with EFAs showed lowered early embryonic death, often times cutting this incidence by 50% or more.
Cows fed with EFAs also showed significant gains in pregnancy rates - 7 to 9 percent increased.