The effect of a commercial probiotic product on the milk quality of dairy cows.


Good Clinical Practice Research Centre, The University of Queensland, School of Veterinary Science, Gatton, Queensland 4343, Australia. Electronic address: [Email]


Probiotics intended to improve plant health and productivity of pastures grazed by dairy cow are becoming commercially available in Australia. Great Land (GL; Terragen Biotech Pty Ltd., Coolum Beach, QLD, Australia) is one such biologic soil conditioner and spray-on probiotic with a label claim of "acting to improve plant health and productivity." The objective of this study was to quantify the effect of GL on the milk quality of cows grazing pasture top-dressed with GL. Lactating dairy cows of mixed age and breed (primarily Holstein-Friesian), in their second lactation or greater, and at least 80 d in milk were enrolled and randomly allocated into 1 of 2 study groups: a treatment cow group (n = 98; cows grazed pasture that was top-dressed with GL according to the product label) and a control cow group (n = 114; cows grazed untreated pasture). As required, both groups were supplemented at the same rate with a mixed ration during the grazing period. Composite milk samples were collected weekly from each cow during the study and analyzed to determine milk components. Milk volumes were recorded at each milking using the herd management software of the study farm. Mean differences in the milk component variables were compared using mixed-effects linear regression models. After controlling for the effect of days in milk, cow lactation, and time since a cow entered the study, the treatment cows produced an average of 1.21 L/cow per day more milk (95% confidence interval: 0.34-2.08 L/cow per day) and more milk protein (0.03 kg/d; 95% confidence interval: 0.01-0.05 kg/d) than the control cows. Pasture cover and pasture consumption did not differ between the GL-treated and the untreated study paddocks grazed by the treatment or control cows. A limited amount of published data have examined the effect of probiotic pasture treatment on the milk quality of dairy cows. This study suggests that application of such products may be beneficial. The mechanisms associated with this type of outcome remain to be investigated.


dairy cattle,milk quality,pasture,probiotics,