Effects of in-feed enzymes on milk production and components, reproduction, and health in dairy cows

H. M. Golder, Heidi A Rossow, I. J. Lean

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Our objectives were to characterize responses in the field to a mix of fibrolytic enzymes using large commercial dairy herds and sufficient study power to evaluate milk production and reproductive responses to an enzyme treatment started during the precalving period. We hypothesized that the use of the enzyme treatment would increase milk production when provided to dairy cows precalving and for approximately 200 d of lactation. The study was conducted on 7,507 cows, in 8 replicates and 16 pens, at 3 dairies in the United States. Eight pens were randomly allocated as control pens and received no enzyme, and another 8 pens received enzyme treatment at a dose of 750 mL/t of dry matter feed. Milk production and energy-corrected milk yield were increased with the enzyme treatment by 0.70 and 0.80 kg/d, respectively, across a 5-month period. Milk fat percentage was not significantly increased by enzyme treatment, but milk fat yield was significantly increased by 0.040 kg/d, compared with controls. Milk protein yield increased 0.010 kg/d with enzyme treatment despite a small reduction of 0.020 percentage units in milk protein percentage. We found no evidence of an increase in the ln somatic cell count for the enzyme-treated cows. Body weight overall was not increased for enzyme-treated cows, but we did observe a numerical increase in dry matter intake (0.20 kg/head per day) for enzyme-treated cows. Most production responses to the enzyme treatment were influenced by dairy. Compared with controls, milk yield in enzyme-treated cows was significantly higher by 3.6 kg/d in dairy 2 and numerically higher by 0.60 and 0.20 kg/d in dairies 1 and 3, respectively. Reproduction, health, and risk of removal or death were not significantly influenced by treatment, apart from a reduced time to first breeding. Production responses to the enzyme treatment varied by dairy from substantial to minor increases, but variation among dairies was not evident in differences in dry matter intake or in partitioning of body weight among enzyme-treated and control pens and cows. It appears likely that the increase in production reflected increased digestibility of feed; however, further work is needed to identify factors influencing the variation in production responses to enzymes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalJournal of Dairy Science
StatePublished - Jan 1 2019


  • fibrolytic enzyme
  • milk production
  • reproduction

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Food Science
  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Genetics


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