Pedometers on dairy cattle can point to better fertility

Research using automated activity monitors reveals a correlation between the intensity of estrous expression and pregnancies per insemination

Authors: Augusto M.L. Madureira, Tracy A. Burnett, Janet W. Bauer, Ronaldo L.A. Cerri (University of British Columbia)

Estrous detection in dairy cattle is one of the biggest issues in the dairy industry, with estimated losses at $300 million in the US dairy industry when estrous detection fails¹. These losses are due to prolonged calving intervals and days open, reduced milk production, and increased veterinary costs, among other reasons.

A research team led by Dr. Ronaldo Cerri of the University of British Columbia has been studying how data collected from automated activity monitors (AAM) can be best used to detect estrus behaviour for the best opportunity for pregnancy. Results from a national research project led by Dr. Cerri under the Dairy Research Cluster 2 called, Sustainable solutions to improve estrous detection and reproductive efficiency in dairy cows, showed that prioritizing detection of estrus in a reproductive program can be as effective as some timed artificial insemination programs.

Role of automated activity monitors in detecting estrus

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Augusto Madureira, PhD., placing one of the automated activity monitors on a heifer at the UBC Dairy Education and Research Centre in Agassiz, BC.

While standing to be mounted has been the gold standard for heat detection, the frequency of standing events has been declining over time. Increased physical activity is considered a secondary feature of estrous expression in dairy cattle and nowadays automated activity monitors (AAM) have been used to reliably identify cows in estrus. Accelerometers and pedometers are the most common AAM used in the dairy industry. In general, most AAM follow the same concepts in order to create estrus or health alerts. For example, when using accelerometers, the monitor will use an algorithm to calculate an index of physical activity by combing the data measured by the 3D accelerometer. A rolling average in physical activity is calculated to use as the baseline for each animal, which in turn becomes a reference value to calculate the relative increase or decrease in activity at a given period of the day. In the case of alerts for estrus, the relative increase in physical activity has to reach a threshold that is set for each AAM system.

Increase in activity at estrus and pregnancy per artificial insemination (AI)

The use of automatic activity monitors in one study showed a strong correlation between the relative increase in activity at estrus and pregnancy per artificial insemination. Animals that had a greater intensity of activity at estrus had around 12 percentage points (based on the model of analysis) greater pregnancy per AI, or over 30% improvement in fertility, than animals that had lower activity levels. The study included animals that spontaneously went into estrus. But even when using a timed AI protocol that induced ovulation and consequently induced estrus, there was a similar level of physical activity at estrus (Figure 1). They also found a correlation with pregnancy losses from 31 to 60 days post-AI (Figure 2) and estrous expression. Cows that had a lower increase in physical activity were more likely to have reduced pregnancy per AI and increased pregnancy losses.

Figure 1. Distribution of pregnancy per AI (%) of all insemination events according to a relative increase in activity at timed AI detected by an automated activity monitor

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Figure 2. Distribution of pregnancy losses (%) according to a relative increase in physical activity at timed AI detected by an automated activity monitor

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This study was the first to report an association of intensity activity at estrus with fertility and pregnancy losses. Animals that had greater estrous expression had higher pregnancy per artificial insemination and reduced pregnancy losses. The results provide further evidence that measurements of estrous expression (i.e. on spontaneous estrus, timed AI), such as physical activity, might be a reliable predictor of fertility and could be used as a tool to assist dairy farmers with decision-making for reproduction strategies at the farm level.

The researchers also concluded that future research is needed to better understand and interpret the data from the AAM to optimize breeding decisions.

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¹https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/7814743

 

New fact sheet for farmers: Drying off cull dairy cattle at high production and in emergency situations

Farmers can download a new fact sheet called: Drying off cull dairy cattle at high production and in emergency situations. The document was prepared by scientific experts at the Mastitis Network led by Dr. Trevor DeVries (University of Guelph) in collaboration with technical advisors, veterinarians and members of the proAction® Animal Care Technical Committee.

The fact sheet provides guidance to all dairy farmers on proper dry-off procedures for dairy cattle generally and in emergency situations. Proper dry-off procedures for lactating dairy cows are important to maintain the Canadian dairy industry’s high standards for animal welfare. Emergency dry-off procedures may be necessary for situations like a farm accident or a rapid and unforeseen interruption in demand for milk requiring a quick reduction in milk production (i.e. early supply chain disruptions that resulted from COVID-19). In all circumstances, applying the procedures enables farmers to ensure they maintain animal health and welfare and comply with the new revised federal regulations (2020) for dairy cattle transport.

Laminated copies that can be posted in barns will be available soon from the proAction Animal Care representatives in each province.

COVID-19: DFC announces research-related visits on commercial dairy farms may resume if Guidelines respected

DFC informed scientists that research-related visits on commercial farms can resume if the researchers and their teams respect the Guidelines for Conducting On-farm Research Activities and receive full authorization by the commercial farm involved in the project. It is also a requirement that researchers must request and have approval from the farm owners to access the property, and must schedule any visits. The farm’s biosecurity measures must be respected at all times.

The organization has asked that researchers consider postponing on-farm research activities that require more than one person or interaction with farm owners/workers whenever possible until provincial Public Health Authorities relax physical distancing recommendations.

Also, before research activities resume on farms, scientists must refer and adhere to the recommendations/guidelines of their local Public Health Authorities and their research institutions, regarding self-isolating and physical distancing.

There should be NO interprovincial travel where self-isolation is required.

DFC thanks all researchers and farmers involved in research projects for their support and cooperation in respecting the guidelines for the protection and safety of all.

New Research: Water use management and the water footprint in current and future climates

shutterstock_271766828New research supported by Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) and Dairy Farmers of Canada (DFC) under the Dairy Research Cluster 3 is identifying and testing methods to manage water use more efficiently on dairy farms, including drinking water used by dairy cattle. The five-year project led Drs. Andrew VanderZaag (AAFC) and Robert Gordon (University of Windsor) and a team of collaborators from across Canada called “Reducing the water footprint of milk production in current and future climates” has three major objectives:

  • Characterize in-barn water use and identify best management practices to reduce water use and increase efficiency;
  • Assess heat stress in dairy cows and evaluate abatement options in current and future climates; and,
  • Evaluate practical treatment methods for managing silage effluent.

The project builds on the results from a large water use and conservation project completed under the Dairy Research Cluster 2 (2013-2018) that measured the water footprint of milk production and identified ways for reducing it. The researchers are taking measurements of water use (in-barn and wastewater) and heat stress indicators on farms in Alberta, Ontario, Quebec and Nova Scotia. Dairy barns are being fitted with flow meters and the data collected will be compiled to develop region-specific water use benchmarks. They will incorporate the data into models to evaluate the effectiveness of different management practices to improve water use efficiency by region while factoring in energy use and the costs of different environmental best practices.

Minimizing heat stress to dairy cows is one of the biggest opportunities identified by the researchers to manage water use more efficiently on dairy farms and lower the water footprint. When cows experience heat stress, their feed intake drops, their water intake increases, and milk yield is decreased. These factors contribute to a higher water footprint value, in addition to negatively impact reproduction and cow health, leading to a loss of revenues for farmers.

The frequency and extent of heat stress episodes in Canada are expected to increase with climate change. To address this challenge on farms, the researchers are examining heat stress indicators like the Temperature Humidity Index (THI is a number that shows the combined effect of air temperature and humidity) in different barn types, designs and ventilation systems on test sites across the country. They will be evaluating different strategies to reduce the impact on the animals and water use.

Another important component of this research includes measuring and capturing dairy farm run-off containing a high pollutant load that can be harmful to the environment. The researchers are investigating low-cost treatment systems to collect the nutrient-rich runoff and will be testing new technologies to capture important nutrients like phosphorous from the wastewater.

The results from this national research will help provide science-based evidence to develop best management practices for climate change adaptation, lower the water footprint and improve environmental farm performance.

Quick Project Facts

Research team:

Principal Investigators:  Andrew VanderZaag (Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) – Ottawa) and Robert Gordon (University of Windsor)

Co-Investigators: Roland Kroebel (AAFC-Lethbridge), Merrin Macrae (University of Waterloo), Édith Charbonneau (Université Laval), Terra Jamieson (AAFC-Halifax), Ward Smith, Budong Qian (AAFC-Ottawa)

Collaborators: Tom Wright (Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs), Sean McGinn, Tim McAllister (AAFC-Lethbridge), Keith Reid (AAFC-Guelph), Ray Desjardins (AAFC-Ottawa), Tim Nelson (Livestock Research Innovation Corporation), John McCabe (Nova Scotia Department of Agriculture)

Total budget: $706,438

Funding partners: Cash contributions provided by Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada and Dairy Farmers of Canada.

Eight Canadian dairy farms are targeted for participation in this research project.

Resources on best practices to reduce water consumption on your dairy farm:

DFC Water Quality and Conservation Fact sheets

 

Videos on water use best practices – Dairy Research Cluster Channel on YouTube

Research summaries and links:

Reducing the water footprint of milk production in current and future climates, Dairy Research Cluster 3 (2018-2022)

Water footprint assessment and optimization for Canadian dairy farms, Dairy Research Cluster 2 (2013-2018)

Water Use and Conservation on a Free-Stall Dairy Farm, Dairy Research and Extension Consortium of Alberta, Alberta Milk

 

DFC Nutrition Resource:  Fact sheet on Milk Products and Bone Health

Dairynew-resource-bone-health-resource-for-health-professionals Farmers of Canada’s Dietitians developed a resource with key evidence-based research results on calcium and bone health. Bringing together recent scientific data, the fact sheet includes a reference tool on recommendations and bioavailability of calcium that health professionals can use to advise their clients in their practices. A copy of the fact sheet is available for download at DairyNutrition.ca.

Annual Pro$ Update

A prominent change with the April 2020 official genetic evaluation release is the annual update of the Pro$ formula. Following the revision of Pro$ in 2019, the first since its introduction in 2015, it was decided to implement annual updates to the Pro$ formula incorporating the latest economic values every year in April, coinciding with the genetic base update. An annual update to Pro$ allows the index to remain up-to-date and relevant to the latest milk prices and production costs. The most apparent outcome of the Pro$ changes this year is the increase in the range of Pro$ values, notably a large increase in the Pro$ evaluations for the top bulls and females. This is an expected result given the changes that have been observed in the economics of dairy production used in the Pro$ formulation.

Changing Economic Values

The Pro$ index was developed such that the Pro$ difference between sires was directly related to the extra lifetime profit to six years that their daughters would generate for Canadian producers. The scale used is in Canadian dollars. This allows for comparison between sires to easily understand the expected differences in their daughters’ profit but also makes the index susceptible to fluctuations with annual updates due to variability in the economic values contributing to the overall profitability of Canadian dairy cows.

Each year a Lactanet economist updates the economic values used for DHI cow profitability reporting. These same numbers are used to calculate the average profit to six years of age for Canadian daughters of Holstein, Jersey and Ayrshire sires to determine the Pro$ formula for each breed. Table 1 shows the economic values used in cow profitability calculations for 2020 and the previous 2019 formulation of Pro$. Of note, rearing costs increased for all three breeds. The increase is a result mostly of the decline in the value of culled cows, which is deducted from rearing expenses such that the profit calculations consider only the net replacement costs. The rise in rearing costs, however, affects the profitability of all cows very similarly. A more consequential difference is in the net profit per kg of protein produced (the earned revenue minus the marginal feed cost for protein), which increased by around 20%.

PROupdateeng1The combined result of updates to the economic values and incorporating an additional birth year of cows who have now had the opportunity to reach six years of age, was an observed increase in the average cow profitability values and an overall increase in the variability and range of daughter profit levels. Compared to 2019 calculations, the average cow profitability to six years for the 2020 calculations was approximately $522, $311 and $230 higher for Holstein, Jersey and Ayrshire breeds, respectively. More importantly, the variation observed in cow lifetime profitability increased, especially for Holstein and Jersey. While the majority of cows experienced increased lifetime profits with the changes to the production costs and milk prices, the more profitable females become even relatively more profitable than the average cow. This finding translates directly to the changes observed in Pro$ index values with the recent update and release.

Top Bulls Go Up for Pro$

The April 2020 release of official genetic evaluations by Lactanet showed a large increase in Pro$ proofs amongst the top animals. An examination of the less visible group of animals making up the bottom end of the Pro$ index rankings shows that this group had their Pro$ proofs decline, dropping even further below the breed average. Genetic evaluations for the newly updated Pro$ formula are greater than 99% correlated with results from the previous formula and its relationship with individual traits of interest and reranking of bulls due to formula changes are minimal for all breeds. However, the scale of the updated Pro$ values has widened significantly. For the Holstein breed, the average change for the Top 100 Pro$ sires in December is an increase of $371 this round, with the highest increase being $670. For the Jersey breed, the average change for the Top 50 Pro$ sires in December is an increase of $290 this round, with the highest increase exceeding $700. The Ayrshire breed, which did not exhibit the same large changes in actual daughter lifetime profitability as Holstein and Jersey, had an average change near zero for the Top 50 Pro$ sires in December. The interpretation and scale of expression for the Pro$ index is maintained such that Pro$ is directly related to the expected average daughter profit to six years of age in Canadian dollars.

The range in the magnitude of Pro$ values has increased for the Holstein, Jersey and Ayrshire breeds. With the Pro$ formula update, just like when other changes may occur between releases, it is vital to consider that adjustments may be required on how to interpret resulting Pro$ values. While the comparison of Pro$ values between any two sires remains the same, a previously established minimum Pro$ value for sire selection may not bring the same level of selection intensity as before. Table 2a shows the Pro$ values categorizing various percentile ranks for proven bulls in each of the three breeds for April 2020, which can be compared to the same values for December 2019 evaluations in Table 2b. Differences between the two tables combine the impact of the updated Pro$ formula, a genetic base update and the addition of highly ranked, newly proven sires. The Pro$ value needed for a sire to be within the percentile rankings greater than 50% has increased for all breeds especially in the top rankings, while the decline in Pro$ values for the bottom bulls demonstrates that the entire Pro$ range has expanded in both the positive and negative directions.

PROupdateeng2Summary

The Pro$ formula was updated in April 2020 to ensure the index remains current with the latest changes to milk pricing and costs of production in Canada. The most visible change with the Pro$ update is that Pro$ values for top animals in the Holstein and Jersey breeds increased notably. The range of observed Pro$ values has broadened with top animals increasing the most and the lowest ranking bulls decreasing to be further below breed average. The current economic values used to derive the Pro$ formula produced higher and more variable cow lifetime profitability values when applied to actual data compared to the previous economic values. Sire Pro$ values directly represent the average difference in profit that their daughters are expected to earn up to the age of six years. Thus, the disproportionate increase in Pro$ values for top sires is explained by the greater average profits expected to be earned by their daughters.

To download a copy of the article, visit CDN.CA.

Authors:  Allison Fleming, Geneticist and Brian Van Doormaal, Chief Services Officer, Lactanet

DFC-financed research at the 2020 Western Canadian Dairy Seminar

ES1fQqTUcAE-B9yDairy Farmers of Canada’s research booth was at the Western Canadian Dairy Seminar (WCDS) the week of March 9-13 in Red Deer, Alberta. There were close to 900 dairy farmers, stakeholders, researchers, students and exhibitors at the conference. At DFC’s booth, handouts were provided on the latest research projects, and fact sheets on Animal care, Water conservation and Footbaths for the Prevention and Control of Digital Dermatitis were shared with many farmers.

While sessions were planned for the whole week, conference activities scheduled for March 13th were cancelled when Alberta Health officials issued an advisory to avoid all large public gatherings due to the outbreak of COVID-19 in the province. WCDS organizers announced the closure of proceedings at the end of the day on Thursday, allowing all attendees to return safely home.

We wish to thank the WCDS organizing committee for a very informative and productive week of meetings!

Results from research financed by DFC and dairy partners 

Several student posters and abstracts at the WCDS provided results from studies at different stages of progress from four major research initiatives supported by DFC and other dairy partners. Listed below are extracts from posters that have preliminary results for completed studies or a description of the expected outcomes for new studies. To view a study poster or abstract, click on the words “Poster” or “Abstract” after each outcome.

Preliminary study results: Optimizing health and production of cows milked in robotic systemslogo_grappe_3__sans_txt_EN-FR

Principal Investigator: Trevor DeVries, University of Guelph

  • Maintaining good hoof health, mobility, and body condition are key factors to optimize productivity and milk quality in robotic milking herds. {Poster}{Abstract}
  • There are potential benefits of using automated milking and feeding systems for farmers’ mental health: dairy farmers may be less stressed, anxious and depressed. The study also found that milk yield and cow health are associated with positive or negative farmer mental health. {Poster} {Abstract}
  • A description of the current trends and benchmarks in management and housing practices across robotic milking farms. {Poster} {Abstract}
  • Greater milk production and quality are being achieved in Canadian robotic milking herds by increasing feed push-up frequency, reducing stocking density, and using sand to bed their free stalls. {Poster} {Abstract}

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Preliminary study results: Surveillance of antimicrobial use and resistance to improve stewardship practices and animal health on dairy farmslogo_grappe_3__sans_txt_EN-FR

Principal Investigators: Javier Sanchez and Luke Heider, University of Prince Edward Island; Co-investigator at the University of Calgary:  Herman Barkema

  • Researchers surveyed farms from different Canadian Regions and found variations among selective dry cow therapy and selective clinical mastitis treatments. This shows an existing opportunity to reduce antimicrobial use associated with dry cow therapy and clinical mastitis treatments on all Canadian dairy farms. {Poster} {Abstract}

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Preliminary study results and expected outcomes from new studies: NSERC Industrial Research Chair on Infectious Diseases of Dairy Cattle (2019-2024)

Chairholder: Herman Barkema, University of Calgary

Preliminary study results

  • Communications training provided to veterinarians delivered through an online virtual Veterinary Dialogue Trainer and other means enhanced communication skills raised standards of veterinary herd health advice and improved farmer satisfaction and herd health. {Poster}
  • Predictive models for detecting mastitis using neural networks can be effective for detection/prediction of mastitis. Including measurements other than just milk traits increases model performance and incorporating more farms may make models more robust. {Poster} {Abstract}
  • A systematic review of existing studies was performed to identify key genetic markers and genes associated with mastitis-related traits and somatic cell scores in dairy cattle to provide a better understanding of the genetic architecture of mastitis in dairy cattle. {Poster} {Abstract}
  • Inflammatory skin damage was high in Digital Dermatitis (DD) lesions when compared to healthy skin; there was no change in macrophage population in DD lesions found over the course of time; a treatment with Oxytetracycline did not have any change in the macrophage population in DD lesions. {Poster}

 New studies in progress

  • Communication between veterinarians and dairy farmers: Effect of communication training on communication skills and mental wellbeing in veterinarians, farmer satisfaction and herd health outcomes. {Abstract}
  • Cattle Health Surveillance System (CHeSS): Monitoring major infectious diseases and antimicrobial resistance in the dairy farms of the Western provinces. {Poster} {Abstract}
  • Effective and economic Johne’s disease control using new early disease detection assays. {Poster} {Abstract}
  • Motives and barriers to providing outdoor access for dairy cows. {Poster} {Abstract}

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Study results:  NSERC Industrial Research Chair in Dairy Cattle Welfare (2014-2019)

Chairholders: David Fraser, Dan Weary and Nina Von Keyserlingk, University of British Columbia

  • A variety of scientific methods are now available to make strong inferences about affective states in cattle. Alone and in combination these can be used to identify management changes that improve welfare. {Poster}
  • Calves remembered caustic paste disbudding as more aversive than hot-iron; we recommend hot-iron disbudding with the use of sedative, local anaesthesia and analgesia, or avoiding the procedure by using polled genetics. {Poster}
  • There is a higher incidence of lameness during the dry period; cows that spend less time feeding prepartum have a higher risk of becoming sick; cows that stand more after calving are likely to develop sole lesions. {Poster}

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For more information on DFC’s research activities and investments, visit DairyResearch.ca. To view the proceedings from the 2020 WCDS visit: https://wcds.ualberta.ca/proceedings/.

 

 

 

Information and Resources from Dairy Farmers of Canada on COVID-19

Questions regarding milk supply

Over the last few weeks, you may have witnessed fluctuations in milk product inventory at your local grocery stores and viewed news stories about the challenges farmers are experiencing. Across Canada, dairy farmers are working with our partners throughout the supply chain to do everything they can to ensure an uninterrupted supply of milk despite the unprecedented circumstances caused by the COVID-19 outbreak.

The pandemic resulted in unforeseen fluctuations in demand for dairy products which resulted in shortages in some retail locations. These are not the result of a lack of production capacity at the farm, but rather reflect some real-time challenges in the supply chain in getting milk products to market. The entire supply chain has had to adapt to the circumstances by implementing new measures to prevent the human-to-human transmission of COVID-19. The near complete shutdown of the restaurant industry has also had significant impacts on the demand for some key dairy products.

These rapid and unforeseen shifts have resulted in a need to dispose of some of the milk at the farm in certain areas as a portion of the raw milk could not find a home to be processed. However, this was done in accordance with environmental rules and regulations. The last thing a dairy farmer wants to see is milk being discarded, but as you know, for safety reasons, raw milk needs to be processed before it can be consumed. Dairy farmers are working collaboratively with processors to adjust to the circumstances and find solutions.

Across Canada, dairy farmers actively support food banks throughout the year, and the industry is ramping up its support of food banks and other initiatives.

These are exceptional circumstances created by the pandemic and dairy farmers are working hard to mitigate the impact. Along with everyone else, we look forward to the end of this difficult situation.

Dairy farmers salute the hard-working men and women throughout the country who are working in unprecedented circumstances and thank the many public health officials, organizations, front-line healthcare workers, emergency personnel and all those who, tirelessly, provide care and work to contain the spread of this virus.

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The Dairy Research team members are continuing our activities safely from our home offices and respecting the public health requirements and guidelines with respect to COVID-19.

If you have any questions concerning dairy research, please contact info@dairyresearch.ca.

Dairy Farmers of Canada’s dairy research kiosk at the Western Canadian Dairy Seminar

Dairy Farmers of Canada’s (DFC) research kiosk will be set up at the Western Canadian Dairy Seminar (WCDS) in Red Deer, Alberta from March 10-13, 2020. With more than 800 participants, most of which are dairy farmers, DFC will be handing out a new fact sheet on best practices for footbath use, as well as summaries of the new Dairy Research Cluster 3 projects.

UnknownMoreover, among the many featured speakers at the WCDS, Nina von Keyserlingk, professor at the University of British Columbia, and one of the NSERC Industrial Research Chairholders on Dairy Cattle Welfare will be speaking on Identifying Gaps in Building Bridges: Working Towards a Sustainable Dairy Industry. DFC was one of the founding investment partners of the Dairy Cattle Welfare Chair at the University of British Columbia when it was established in 1997 and has continued investing in the program since its creation. DFC has renewed its commitment to the program for a new five-year term from 2019-2024.

Nina von Keyserlingk and co-chairholders Dan Weary and David Fraser have developed a world-class program in this area of research, providing scientific evidence for best practices and standards for dairy cattle welfare in Canada and globally. Notably, the results published from their research have served as science-based evidence in the development of animal welfare assessment protocols for DFC’s proAction® Animal Care module.

For a summary of recent findings from the Chair in Dairy Cattle Welfare consult the 2018 Dairy Research Highlights.

 

 

Vitamin B12 is better absorbed from dairy products

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Milk is an excellent source of vitamin B12. A glass of milk (250 mL serving) provides approximately half of the Recommended Daily Intake of this vitamin for an adult.¹ What’s more, the conclusions of research studies, some of which were financed under the Dairy Research Cluster 2 (2013-2018), found that vitamin B12 is much better absorbed when consumed in cow’s milk than when taken in vitamin supplements and that cheddar cheese is one of the best natural sources of vitamin B12, after cow’s milk.

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Christiane Girard, research scientist at the Sherbrooke Research and Development Centre, and her team of collaborators conducted their studies using pigs, which have a very similar digestive system to that of humans. The researchers gave pigs either cow’s milk or vitamin B12 supplements to compare the absorption rates of this vitamin. They found that vitamin B12, which is naturally present in cow’s milk, is absorbed two times better than synthetic vitamin B12.²

The research team also investigated whether vitamin B12 in other types of dairy products is better absorbed than a synthetic supplement is. For comparison purposes, pigs were given a meal of cheddar cheese, Swiss cheese, yogurt, tofu (completely free of vitamin B12) or tofu with added synthetic vitamin B12. They compared the levels of vitamin B12 in the pigs’ blood in the following hours and discovered that cheddar cheese wins hands-down over tofu enriched with synthetic vitamin B12. Vitamin B12 from the cheese was two times more bioavailable than the synthetic vitamin B12 in the enriched tofu. Cheddar cheese is, therefore, one of the best natural sources, after cow’s milk, of vitamin B12.³

Source and function of Vitamin B12

  • Vitamin B12 is present only in foods of animal origin, such as meat, poultry, fish, seafood, eggs and milk products.  It can  also be found in few plant foods that are  fortified with this vitamin.
  • Vitamin B12 is essential for neurological functions and the growth and division of cells, including red blood cells.
  • Vegetarians, especially vegans, older adults, and pregnant women are more at risk of vitamin B12 deficiency.

{This article contains extracts from a text published online by Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada}


¹ https://www.dairynutrition.ca/nutrients-in-milk-products/other-nutrients/milk-an-excellent-source-of-vitamin-b12

² J. Jacques Matte, F. Guay and C. L. Girard, Bioavailability of vitamin B12 in cows’ milk. British Journal of Nutrition 2012; 107, 61-66

³ D. Dalto Bueno, I. Audet, C.L. Girard, J. J. Matte, Bioavailability of Vitamin B12 from Dairy Products Using a Pig Model. Nutrients 2018 Aug 21;10(9). pii: E1134