RumiNation | S03 : E07

Exploring B Vitamin Supply in Dairy Cows

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Exploring B Vitamin Supply in Dairy Cows

with Vicki Brisson

Rumination 3.07

19.13 min

Research in B vitamins synthesis shows that dry matter intake is a key driver in the metabolic process of these vitamins. Listen to Vicki Brisson form Guelph University as she presents the topic of her study on B vitamins and how they affect milk production.

Our guest - Vicki Brisson

Growing up on a dairy farm, she has come to understand and experience first-hand the crucial impact nutrition can have on a herd. Therefore, she aims to return to industry after the completion of her thesis. She believes that her research on B vitamins can be valuable to ensure the sustainability of the dairy industry.

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Timestamps & Summary


Tell the audience about your journey and the research you have been doing for your master’s degree.

Vicki Brisson

I grew up on a dairy farm, and I really had an interest in Animal Health. So starting in grade 8, until the beginning of my master’s, I spent lots of time shadowing large animal vets; they were probably tired of me by the end. 

It allowed me not only to deepen my knowledge of animal health, but also to learn how to establish meaningful relationships and collaborate with the key players that make up a farmer’s support team.

I think I found the right path when I discovered a special interest for the role of nutrition and how it can have an impact on animal health.

In the summer of 2019, I started my master’s degree with Dr. Jenn Ellis at the University of Guelph. Since starting my master’s, I have done a deep dive into both mathematical modeling and the importance of B vitamins for dairy cows.

Since then, my curiosity about these topics just keeps growing, it really feels like we have only touched the tip of the iceberg.


Is there some common drivers regarding B vitamin synthesis that you can share with the audience?

Vicki Brisson

There is still a lot that is being studied when it comes to the ruminal synthesis of B vitamins.

Over the last few years, many studies, including a Meta analysis, has demonstrated that positive milk production response to rumen protected B vitamin supplements. There is something happening here in the rumen. There are factors that affect how much B vitamin is reaching the cows’ duodenum. It tells us that while we know that the rumen’s microbes can synthesize B vitamins, which responds to supplementation really indicates that the rumen microbes probably do not produce enough B vitamins to support the cow’s needs.

Your question was about those key drivers that are constant throughout or that can link all the B vitamins together? My first answer to that would be dry matter intake. Because we know that dry matter intake affects the rumen microbial population.


What would be some of the key points that you would really remind people to focus on?

Vicki Brisson

I think one of the biggest things, and if you talk to Dre Christiane Girard, she will mention this over and over again, we know that B vitamins are essential coenzymes to support the cow’s metabolic needs.

We know that whether it be cows that stress during transition, during heat stress or at their peak lactation, we need to support those metabolic needs.

We also know that dry matter intake, digestible search, and digestible NDF are likely key drivers.

However, the positive production, reproduction, and health responses to supplementation, which represents just a direct increase supply, have been widely demonstrated. They suggest that the cow’s needs for B vitamins simply cannot be met only through ruminal synthesis. So those cows need a bit of help. They need vitamin supplementation.

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