How to Manage Butterfat Depression

How to Manage Butterfat Depression

Farm Conversation Series

A common issue in spring calving cows is the sudden drop in butterfat that often coincides with the second rotation.

There are several reasons why this happens; a lack of fibre in the diet, lack of energy or even a lack of protein in the diet. It comes down to the ration not being correctly balanced.

As well as a lack of fibre, it may be that the fibre there is too rapidly digested. This is often the first problem addressed on-farm. Assess the types of fibres available to you and act accordingly.

Loose or watery dungs can be a sign of subacute ruminal acidosis or SARA. This is a condition caused by the rapid decrease in rumen pH which is directly linked to changes in the diet, a lack of effective fibre as well as the introduction of rapidly fermented carbohydrates (starch, sugar and cellulose)

The introduction of good quality live yeast into the diet will help to reduce the risk acidosis.

Vistacell live yeast acts as a probiotic to improve rumen and gut health by boosting the growth of beneficial rumen bacteria and improving rumen fermentation

Vistacell has three modes of action that will help to combat the butterfat drop:

  1. Vistacell scavenges oxygen and excess sugars in the rumen, helping to increase rumen pH.
  2. Yeast reduces the number of lactic-acid producing microbes while increasing the number and activity of fibre-digesting microbes.
  3. Improved fibre digestion and dry matter intake result in greater productivity.
Fig 1 Loose or watery dungs with the presence of oxygen bubbles are a good indication of acidosis

Figure 1: Loose/watery dung with the presence of oxygen bubbles are a good indication of acidosis

Fig 2 This is what a normal dung should look like

Figure 2: This is what a normal dung should look like

Vistacell ensures the highest delivery of live yeast to the rumen to maximise performance and reduce the risk of SARA.

There is also the issue of oil in the diet. While some oil is beneficial to the cow and can be a good source of energy, too much oil can compromise the functionality of the rumen and lead to a reduction in fibre digestion. Oils that are naturally present in grass, and other forages, can be problematic if not managed correctly and it is advisable to look at, and understand the types and sources of oil from other ingredients in the diet. Again, these need to be balanced correctly to avoid a depression in butterfat.

Specialist nutrition expert Ireland Dairy and Beef nutrition

If you would like a chat about how our highly palatable nutritious animal moist feeds can help you manage costs and herd health


Nigell Condell 087 093 8170

Office 051 833071.

Would you like to chat?

Specialist Nutrition is an experienced animal feeds company, supplying a comprehensive range of high-quality moist and liquid feeds, nutritional products and advice to progressive dairy, beef and pig farmers.