Animal feed: Winter is a time of carotene shortage

Green plants contain large quantities of carotene. A carotene deficiency is never a problem with green fodder or pasutrre grazing. For economic reasons, however, cows seldom enjoy fresh green fodder – silage is frequently used throughout the year. The carotene content of preserved fodder fluctuates a great deal.

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Large quantities of carotene are even lost during harvesting as a result of the effect of solar radiation or even rain. Shortly after harvesting, the carotene content of well-siloed gfrass silage is approximately 120 to 200 milligrams per kg of dry mass, maize solage has 30 to 90 milligrams per kg of dry mass and is considerably lower, and hay comes last with twelve to 35 milligrams per kg of dry mass. The popular beet pulp also contains only minimal quantities of carotene.

The great problem with sialge is the loss of carotene during storage. From spring to the end of winter, the carotene content falls by about half. This partly explains the increasing fertility problems in winter. A shortage of beta-carotene not rarely leads to fertility problems, for it is important for the functioning of the uterine lining and the ovaries. It promotes the development of follicles and corpus luteum, and the synthesis of the pregnancy protection progesteron. Investigations show that a shortage can have a negative effect on the mating intervals the length of the mating period. Additionally, Eiblasensprung is delayed and an increased formation of corpus luteum and follicle cysts have been observed. A carotene deficiency in breeding bulls has a negative impact on the total sperm count and the number of mobile sperm.

In this context, heifers must not be forgotten. They frequently have to make do with older grass silage or hay. A large proportion of cyst formation in heifers is directly connected to a shortage of carotene. The table shows a calculation for providing carotene for two different performance groups. Fodder replacement with higher concentrated feed has to be taken into account in particular.

It quickly becomes clear that maize silage and hay with low carotene content in the fresh feed do not make a noteworthy contribution to the supply. Grass silage on the other hand provides 625 or 525 milligrams of carotene to the diet. The maintenance requirement is around 100 milligrams per cow per day, for output, 20 milligrams can be applied to one kilogram of milk. The calculation shows that a cow with an output of 20 kilograms of milk has a sufficient supply with this ration. While the high-output group has a deficiency of 99 milligrams. Animals in the first 100 lactation days in particular respond sensitively to a carotene deficiency, because insemination occurs during this period.

In practice, bunches of alfalfa are often used as a supplement. This contains a relatively high quantity of carotene because of the drying process. The use of fresh carotene has also proven to be effective with a corresponding value for money and availability. Alternatively, the missing 99 milligrams can be replaced by synthetic carotene in a feed supplement. In this example, 10 to 15 grammes of Miravit Carotin 8000 would be enough to cover the requirement of the group. If the supply situation is uncertain, add 35 grams and for an extreme deficiency 70 grams per cow per day to the feed. Carotin 8000 is tasty and is very well received, even when feeding by hand. The product is rounded off with vitamins A and E.

Further information is available from Anna-Carina Tschöke, Tel. 0173 . 7293226; anna-carina.tschoeke@agravis.de and from the free hotline, Tel. 0800 . 682-1133.

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