2023 Tri-State Dairy Conference – New Revelations in Transition Cow Nutrition

Podcast Topic

Gathering together at the 2023 Tri-State Dairy Nutrition Conference for the Balchem Mini-Symposium “New Revelations in Transition Cow Nutrition” are speakers Dr. Mike Van Amburgh, Dr. Jose Santos and Dr. Heather White.

The mini symposium featured topics such as better understanding essential versus required nutrients, choline research as a nutritional requirement and insights on gaining the next five pounds of milk.


Dr. Mike Van Amburgh, Dr. Jose Santos and Dr. Heather White

Episode 68: 2023 Tri-State Dairy Conference – New Revelations in Transition Cow Nutrition


Dr. Van Amburgh of Cornell University led the discussion, summarizing his report on essential and required nutrients such as amino acids and choline. He mentioned when formulating diets for lactating cows, it’s important to understand there are other nutrients that aren’t necessarily essential but are required. 4:53

Shifting the conversation, Dr. Van Amburgh said establishing an optimum value has now replaced nutrient requirements based on energy. Recent evidence indicates that feeding rumen protected choline (RPC) significantly improves milk production. In addition, supplementing choline shows an increase in low-density lipoproteins (VLDL) output from the liver. 7:21

Highlighting her research in supplementing choline, Dr. White shared that studies show a 20 to 25% increase from cells and culture after incorporating the nutrient. She added choline also increased the tricarboxylic acid cycle (TCA) capacity, indicating a shift in nutrient incorporation. 11:45

As milk increases when infusing non-essential amino acids or even by using meta-analysis to supplement choline, how is glucose supply impacted? Dr. Santos, who focused his research on meta-analysis, said that even with the concurrent increase in dry matter intake, efficiency has still increased. He went on to say that studies from Wisconsin and Michigan highlight the basic understanding of a cow’s variable ability to synthesis glucose differently with the ability to produce at least two kilograms more milk consistently. 21:30

Within some of Dr. White’s meta-analysis research, she mentioned mixing choline into the total mixed ration (TMR) allowed for the opportunity to analyze exact intake and also outcome production or energy corrected milk (ECM) fat. 34:08

If cost isn’t an issue, Dr. Santos mentioned that he’s seen experiments feeding choline longer than 21 days postpartum and into 105 days at 12.9 grams. While no major benefit showed at that dosage amount, he added that other studies have shown benefits feeding choline longer and into mid lactation. 39:41

Switching gears, Scott Sorrell, podcast host and director of global marketing for Balchem asked Dr. Santos about epigenetics and the effect choline has on behavioral changes. 44:59

Sharing that epigenetics shifts genomes without changing sequences, Dr. Santos mentioned that through a two-by-two factorial experiment on choline, research indicates calf behaviors shifting and performance increasing. He went on to mention that history shows 30% of calves that were born from control dams and fed colostrum from control dams died from lipopolysaccharide challenges. 51:10

Wrapping up the conversation, Dr. Zimmerman, podcast co-host and technical services manager for Balchem said that research speaks for itself. He stated that higher producing cows continue to prove choline as a required nutrient for transition cows. 55:50

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