GLOBAL - Methionine has a key role in reducing fatty livers, improving milk production and lifting components, particularly around the transition cow phase.
This is according to University of Illinois ruminant nutrition expert Professor Jim Drackley, who stresses that the amino acid plays a role in cow nutrition in many different ways.
Amongst other effects, methionine has a role in choline, fatty liver and glutathione, an intercellular antioxidant.
He said: “Moving fat out of the liver occurs at a very low rate in ruminants, thus contributing to fatty liver development.
“Methionine helps move fat out of the liver."
His message to the Total Dairy Conference in Gloucestershire, UK, last week was that, while the impacts of methionine were "nothing new", methionine was one of the more promising developments in ruminant nutrition, attracting attention around the world and in the US.
Discussing the literature, he said: “Plasma methionine is lower in cows with displaced abomasums, along with other key components”.
“Milk yield was increased significantly by the methionine source, we also had increases in milk protein, milk fat yield, milk protein yield and energy corrected milk yield.
“Along with the intake stimulation we were able to see a significant increase in milk production and milk components.”
Within the cow, methionine is found in milk protein, rumen bacteria and body tissue. In terms of feeding the cow, fish meal and corn gluten meal are ranked highly for methionine content.
He noted the importance of a rumen “doing what is can for us” because of its excellent microbial protein.
Commenting on energy balance during the transition phase, he said: “The rate at which cows come onto feed really determines the depth of the negative energy balance. Milk production, despite what the general public might think, really does not have a large role in putting cows in jeopardy of welfare situations.”