Live Yeast Supplements Boost Dairy Cow Health and Milk Production

Greg Howard
8th June, 2024

Live Yeast Supplements Boost Dairy Cow Health and Milk Production

Image Source: Андрей Филоненко (photographer)

Key Findings

  • The study by the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences found that supplementing dairy cows with live yeast (20 g/d/head) increased their dry matter intake and milk yield
  • YE supplementation improved milk components, including solids, fat, protein, and lactose
  • The study observed enhanced rumen fermentation parameters and beneficial changes in ruminal bacterial community composition
  • YE supplementation also boosted serum antioxidant and immune functions in dairy cows
The utilization of live yeast (Saccharomyces cerevisiae, YE) in dairy cow diets is gaining traction as a potential strategy to enhance feed efficiency and milk yield. However, the effects of YE on dairy cow performance have shown inconsistencies across various studies, leaving the underlying mechanisms unclear. A recent study conducted by the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences aimed to investigate the impact of YE supplementation on lactation performance, ruminal microbiota composition, fermentation patterns, and serum antioxidant capacity and immune functions in dairy cows[1]. The study found that supplementing dairy cows with YE (20 g/d/head) led to several beneficial outcomes. The cows exhibited increased dry matter intake (DMI) (P = 0.016) and higher yields of milk (P = 0.002) and its components, including solids (P = 0.003), fat (P = 0.014), protein (P = 0.002), and lactose (P = 0.001). Furthermore, YE supplementation resulted in significant increases in rumen fermentation parameters, such as ammonia nitrogen (NH3-N) (P = 0.023), acetate (P = 0.005), propionate (P = 0.025), valerate (P = 0.003), and total volatile fatty acids (VFAs) (P < 0.001). The analysis of 16s rRNA gene sequencing data revealed that YE administration increased the relative abundances of three primary bacterial genera: Ruminococcus_2 (P = 0.010), Rikenellaceae_RC9_gut_group (P = 0.009), and Ruminococcaceae_NK4A214_group (P = 0.054). This increase was accompanied by an enriched pathway related to amino acid metabolism. Additionally, enhanced serum antioxidative (P < 0.05) and immune functionalities (P < 0.05) were observed in the YE group. These findings build upon earlier research that explored various dietary supplements and their effects on ruminants. For instance, a study investigating the impact of phytogenic compounds on cattle found that certain compounds like capsaicin and thyme oil could enhance salivary physico-chemical properties and feed boli characteristics, which are crucial for maintaining ruminal health in cattle fed concentrate-rich rations[2]. Similarly, another study demonstrated that barn feeding, compared to natural grazing and semi-grazing, increased ruminal VFAs concentrations and stimulated gene expression related to cell proliferation in the rumen epithelium, thereby improving the growth performance of local sheep breeds under harsh conditions[3]. Moreover, previous studies have shown that live yeast supplementation can positively impact ruminant health and productivity. For example, one study found that dietary yeast supplementation in Egyptian buffaloes improved dry matter intake, crude fiber digestibility, and milk yields, particularly in multiparous cows[4]. Another study reported that live yeast supplementation in lactating dairy cows increased daily milk yield, improved rumen pH, and reduced lactate accumulation in the rumen, thus enhancing overall rumen health and performance[5]. The current study by the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences ties together these earlier findings by demonstrating that YE supplementation not only improves milk performance but also induces beneficial changes in ruminal bacterial community composition and fermentation. The study highlights that YE enhances serum antioxidative and immunological responses during the mid-lactation stage, suggesting that YE may exert positive effects on both rumen and blood metabolism in dairy cows. In summary, the study provides compelling evidence that YE supplementation can be a valuable strategy for improving lactation performance and overall health in dairy cows. By enhancing ruminal fermentation and bacterial composition, as well as boosting serum antioxidant and immune functions, YE supplementation appears to offer a multifaceted approach to optimizing dairy cow productivity and well-being.

GeneticsBiochemAnimal Science


Main Study

1) Feeding live yeast (Saccharomyces cerevisiae) improved performance of mid-lactation dairy cows by altering ruminal bacterial communities and functions of serum antioxidation and immune responses.

Published 7th June, 2024

Related Studies

2) Supplementation With Phytogenic Compounds Modulates Salivation and Salivary Physico-Chemical Composition in Cattle Fed a High-Concentrate Diet.

3) Different feeding strategies can affect growth performance and rumen functions in Gangba sheep as revealed by integrated transcriptome and microbiome analyses.

4) Response of primiparous and multiparous buffaloes to yeast culture supplementation during early and mid-lactation.

5) Effect of live yeast (Saccharomyces cerevisiae) supplementation on rumen fermentation and metabolic profile of dairy cows in early lactation.

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