Omega Fatty Acids Part of Son-Bow’s “Transition” Success

Son Bow Team


Even More Success

Much like the Son-Bow team, Tulare, California’s Brad Vander Poel has found success improving the omega balance at his dairy

Read His Story

Spotlight on Milk

Spotlight on Milk

Hear the highlights of the U-FL study on omega-3s and milk – 5 Minutes will change the way you think about cows and EPA/DHA Omega-3s!

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Dairy producer John Freund of Son-Bow Farms Inc., Maiden Rock, Wisc., is seeing good positive movement forward as he and his nutrition team fine-tune his heifer and transition cow protocols for his 1,000-cow operation.

His nutritionists – Leo Lofgren (Western Wisconsin Nutrition) and Darin Bremmer (Vita Plus) – are feeding moderate amounts of omega-6 and omega-3 required fatty acids for the past year and a half. The success of this new protocol has been significant. A quick glance at their DairyComp 305 reports show milk yields are up and pregnancy losses down.

Early Milk Trends
Oct 11–Apr 12
(prior to Strata/low rate)
Oct 12–Apr 13
(Strata @ .25 lb.)
Early Milk 92 lb. 99 lb. +7 lb.
Peak Milk 102 lb. 109 lb. +7 lb.
Breeding Trends
12 Months Prior to Strata 12 Months on Strata Improvement
1st Service Conception 37 41 +4 points
Overall Conception 33 37 +4 points
Early Aborts 18% 10% 55% reduction

As part owner and dairy manager since 1997, Freund has watched the dairy grow from its original 150 cows to 650 by 2000. Since the turn of the century, they’ve slowly expanded to their current 1,000 Holstein cows, milking 3x.

Freund’s successful nutrition program has mirrored some of the results shared last February at the Florida Ruminant Nutrition Conference by Dr. José Santos, a dairy science professor and researcher at University of Florida.

Santos said research from his group and colleagues at the University of Florida showed “early lactation rations balanced for lower ratios of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids, by adding calcium salts of these fatty acids, influence milk production, embryo quality and pregnancy rates.”

The research data developed by Santos’ group in early 2013 also goes further in validating the 2007 data from Cornell University by showing a linear milk response to the grams of EPA/DHA omega-3s, which is a key ingredient in Freund’s early lactation diets.

In his most recent study, Santos altered the ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids with supplemental fats in the diets of early lactation cows on lactation while keeping energy across treatments the same. There were three treatments of different levels of omega-3s fed in the diet, providing different ratios of omega-6s to omega-3s. Cows fed the lowest ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 (4:1 ratio) produced more milk than the other two ratios tested.

In order to meet these ratios, different levels of EPA/DHA omega-3s (Strata G113) were fed. Feeding rates were: .11 lbs.; .23 lbs.; and .4 lbs. Milk yields for those feeding rates varied from 95.5 lbs. of fat corrected milk/per cow/per day at the 1/10th lb. feeding rate, to 105.6 lbs. of fat corrected milk/per cow/per day at the 4/10th lb. feeding rate. Difference between those two rates was 7.5 lbs. of milk and 10.1 lbs. fat corrected milk.

“Cows fed the highest amount (4/10th lb.) consumed 3 lbs. more dry matter/day, which accounts for a portion of the increase in fat-corrected milk yield,” explained Santos. Nevertheless, there were 3 lbs. of fat-corrected milk response that could not be accounted for by the increased DM intake. Santos and his colleagues believe this is a direct effect of the specific dietary fatty acids.

“Manipulating the omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids in the diet influence lactation performance and fertility,” Santos stressed. “Replacing omega-6 with the omega-3 from fish oils resulted in greater yields of milk and milk components and improved pregnancy per AI. The benefits to fertility were observed primarily because of reduced pregnancy loss in the first 60 days of gestation.

“Cows fed moderate amounts of omega-6s and omega-3s had improved embryo quality and increased pregnancy, 30% to 37%, and in another experiment, reduced pregnancy loss from 12% to 6%. We think essential fatty acids and some of long chain polyunsaturated fatty acids found in marine oils are affecting the cow’s health as a whole,” said Santos.

From Research to the Dairy

Freund’s experience at Son-Bow Dairy backs up what the scientists have reported from their extensive fatty acid research. “I’ve seen dramatic reductions in our pregnancy losses and that’s huge for us,” he said. “We’ve cut those losses nearly in half. We agree with the researchers, that much of the positive results can be attributed to adding Strata G113 at ¼-lb. per cow/per day to our fresh cow ration we feed through 100 days in milk.

“Fresh cows milk more and that’s the name of the game.”

“Fresh cows milk more and that’s the name of the game. I’m most confident in keeping cows pregnant and knowing that we will get that front end milk – the peak milk from our fresh cows,” the dairyman said.

Freund, who refers to Son-Bow Farm Inc., as a “family operation in a corporate environment” said, “while we are not family in the sense that we’re related directly, we are very family oriented and have an extremely close knit group of people who work hard to produce not only a significant volume of milk, but also high quality milk with somatic cell counts running about 100,000.”

Needless to say, Freund is greatly encouraged with the herd’s improved performance.

So What’s it Worth to You?

Find out how much improving the omega balance of your dairy diets can improve your bottom line with our Omega Value Calculator!