Bicar®Z for cows
A cost efficient mineral to increase milk production and prevent acidosis
Having healthy, competitive cows is a challenge
Ruminant farming includes meat production and milk production. In order to remain competitive on national and international markets, dairy cow breeders are led to optimise rations and, in particular, to increase their energy density by using cereals at the risk of reducing the proportion of fibre. Thus energy-rich rations increase the risk of ruminal acidosis and, as a result, can cause a drop in performance and health problems. Meat production is concentrated in larger herds with optimised feed management. Similarly, fattening rations, which are necessarily high in energy, increase the risk of acidosis. Adequate sodium intakes, control of the Anion Cation Balance and prevention of acidosis make the use of Bicar®Z in ruminants unavoidable.
Why using Bicar®Z for cows?
Bicar®Z increases the milk production of cows
3.6 extra litres of milk per day per cow
The Bicar®Z team has carried out various studies in different countries and these have shown that the addition of 250 to 300 g of Bicar®Z in the ration or on hand resulted in 16.5% additional milk. Each cow produced between 2.4 and 3.6 extra liters per day.
Bicar®Z helps to improve their fertility
In early lactation, cows have high energy requirements. If these needs cannot be met by an appropriate diet, the cow suffers an energy deficit and draws on her own body reserves to maintain sufficient milk production. This can lead to weight loss and impaired fertility (delayed ovulation, longer calving intervals, etc.).
A study conducted by Solvay showed that cows consuming Bicar®Z had a 50% reduction in fertility problems and udder infections. Among the study sample, there was also a 59.1% success rate in the first insemination of cows consuming BicarⓇZ compared to 35.7% for the others.
Bicar®Z makes it possible to overcome the problems of a rich diet
In order to remain competitive, you need to optimize rations to improve the production capacity of your animals. However, feeding a diet that is too high in energy can increase the risk of acidosis and cause a drop in performance.
Cows have a ruminal microbiota that is very sensitive to pH variations. A pH below 6.0 causes an increase in the amylolytic flora, which itself produces acid, to the detriment of the cellulolytic flora which allows good digestion of the forage. Digestion becomes incomplete (undigested fibre and grain in the dung) and the animal has no longer enough nutrients to ensure good milk production causing a feed efficiency drop.
Bicar®Z reduces the impact of heat stress for ruminants
Acidosis can lead to heat stress when the ambient temperature exceeds 20 °C or a THI (Temperature Humidity Index) greater than 68. This is because ruminants' breathing rate increases to allow them to lose body heat more quickly. The loss of CO2 through the lungs leads to a decrease in the body's bicarbonate reserves and thus a decrease in its capacity to buffer the ruminal pH. Increased sweating and urine loss accentuates this phenomenon and also leads to a decrease in available sodium.
Field observations carried out in a French department on a herd of 60 cows (Dr Danièle Castellani, 2012) showed that heat stress leads to a decrease in Dry Matter intake of 1.4 to 3 kg per day and a reduction in milk production of 1.5 to 3.5 L per day.
The buffering capacity of Bicar®Z bicarbonate helps to balance the pH and provides a pure source of sodium without chloride or sulphur to compensate for losses.
Calculating the electrolyte balance of your cows helps to prevent problems such as acidosis and its consequences. This can be calculated using the Dietary Cation-Anion Balance (DCAB).
Adding 1% of Bicar®Z to the ration gives an additional 118 mEq/kg DM. This is an effective way of maintaining the useful matter content of the milk, in particular the fat and protein content.
Ensuring safe feed transitions for cows
The use of Bicar®Z guarantees safe feed transitions, especially when grazing animals. Young grass is rich in highly fermentable carbohydrates and contains little cellulose, magnesium and sodium. It is eaten quickly, resulting in low salivation and limited rumination. This promotes acidosis.
A study conducted in Ireland (O'Grady, 2008) showed that 11% of cows on pasture suffered from actual acidosis (pH<5.5).
Used as a preventive measure when grazing animals (added to the ration in the morning and evening), Bicar®Z increases the sodium content of young grass, without adding chloride or sulphur, which are both acidifying agents. The pH is therefore restored to a value close to physiological values.
The main effects of buffer substances that have been experimentally measured by several meta-analyses (Hu 2004, Meschy 2007, Iwaniuk 2015, INRA 2018) are as follows:
- Increase in rumen pH from +0.1 to +0.3 units, especially as it is low at the start of the rumen.
- Increase in intake from +0.2 to +1.2 kg DM
- Increase in production from +0.5 to 2.2 kg of milk
- Increase of the Butterfat Content (milk fat content) from +1 to +3.5 g/litre
A meta-analysis is a systematic scientific method that combines the results of a series of independent studies on a given problem according to a reproducible protocol.
The return on investment from the use of Bicar® Z is at least 1 for 2 and up to 1 for 8, not counting the positive effect of reducing certain health risks.
According to Mike Hutjens, University of Illinois, the return on investment of buffer substances is 1:8, which is consistent with the previous calculation.
A survey in the USA shows that 79% of farms use buffer substances and it is by far the most used ingredient in animal husbandry.