While no herd is immune to digestive challenges, Scott Lindsay strives to ensure every cow under his care is as healthy and productive as possible. He currently milks 400 registered Jerseys at Pine Hill Jersey Farm, a second-generation family farm in eastern Ohio.
Lindsay typically observes seasonal production changes on his farm and this past year has been no exception.
“I do all the cow herd work and walk the cows every day in addition to my field work in the spring, summer and fall,” Lindsay says. “I always endeavor to have healthy cows that produce well with high components.”
He discussed the opportunity to achieve more consistent cow health with his longtime nutritionist Dr. Dwight Roseler who recommended BaciFlex®, a Bacillus-based probiotic developed by Papillon Agricultural Company. Already familiar with Papillon through his use of specialty product MIN-AD®, Lindsay agreed.
“Dr. Roseler used BaciFlex on other farms with success,” Lindsay says. “So we decided to evaluate its effectiveness in managing occasional seasonal challenges across the herd.
“Summer challenges and frequent feed changes make it difficult to capture details on performance; even so, we started feeding BaciFlex to the entire milking herd in mid-July.”
Lindsay adds that it can also be difficult to make decisions using on-farm data unless the herd is split with some cows fed the product and others not. Nevertheless, Papillon’s Technical Services Manager Clayton Stoffel combed through farm data to gain valuable insights on herd performance.
“The report that Papillon shared with my nutritionist indicated a positive trend in feed efficiency across the herd when feeding BaciFlex.”
Over the course of the feeding period, dry matter intake was consistent, and energy-corrected milk increased. Taken together, feeding BaciFlex increased energy-corrected dry matter efficiency (ECDME) of the whole herd.
While many take a treatment approach with feed additives like BaciFlex, these results highlight the value of using probiotics long-term. In addition to decreasing pathogenic challenges, BaciFlex supports healthy microbiomes and optimizes nutrient digestion and absorption. This leads to healthier cows that are better able to cope with stressors—something Lindsay keeps close in mind.
“Investing in health benefits through feeding has some definite advantages,” he says. “But it has to be cost effective for my farm. So far, we have stayed on BaciFlex and will continue with fall weather, harvest and new forage changes on the horizon.”