The benefits of adding methionine to dairy lactating rations to enhance milk and milk protein production has been known for many years. The return on investment of this inclusion was usually measured by the cost of the methionine against the potential return from milk protein production. The value of milk protein has varied greatly over the last few years. The value of this milk protein is at a low point, which has many questioning the value of adding methionine, and some reducing the amount of supplementation.
Additional research has shown the value of feeding dairy cows methionine pre- and post-freshening. Research shows it improves immune function during the critical transition period.
A presentation at the 2016 Four-State Nutrition Conference by Dr. Phil Cardoso of the University of Illinois highlighted the beneficial effects of methionine supplementation during the later stages of follicle growth and early embryo development. Supplemented cows had lower early embryonic death (primarily between day 21-61).
“Supplementation of cows with methionine during the final stages of follicular development and early embryo development, until Day 7 after breeding, lead to lipid accumulation changes in the embryos and resulted in differences in gene expression in the embryo. Methionine supplementation seems to impact the preimplantation embryo in a way that enhances its capacity for survival because there is strong evidence that endogenous lipid reserves serve as an energy substrate. The lower pregnancy losses from cows fed methionine enriched diets suggest that methionine favors embryo survival, at least in multiparous cows. Further studies are needed to corroborate whether supplementation with methionine would have a beneficial impact on embryo survival and if these changes in the early embryo translate into changes in pregnancy outcomes or physiology of the resulting calf.” Dr. Phil Cardoso, 2016 Four-State Nutrition Conference Proceedings
Additional research will continue to provide more information on methionine levels needed, which will allow us to determine the benefit in our dairy operations. The value of a pregnant cow makes this research very intriguing and worthwhile.
If you are considering adding methionine to your ration but aren’t sure if it’s the right investment for you, be sure to contact your ANC consultant!