Folic Acid and Vitamin B12 in Cows

Project entitled:

Folic Acid and Vitamin B12 for the Productivity of Dairy Cows

Jean-Paul Laforest, Christiane L. Girard, Doris Pellerin, François Richard, Marc-André Sirard, Hélène Lapierre, Daniel Lefebvre, Jean Durocher


The peripartum period is critical for dairy cows as they fail to meet their nutritional needs through their diet, which causes various metabolic and reproductive problems. The study aimed to assess whether a vitamin B12 and folic acid supplement injected during the peripartum period would improve the efficiency of energy metabolism, reducing production and reproductive problems related to a negative energy balance while improving the nutritional quality of milk. In farming conditions, the supplement increases the number of cows with a protein-to-milk-fat ratio above 0.75 by 8.2%, thereby reducing the risk of subclinical ketosis. It also shortens the first service interval by 3.8 days in multiparous cows but not in primiparous cows. The supplement increases vitamin B12 concentration in milk by 73% on average. Economic analysis shows that the supplement can be profitable in the Quebec context but should be evaluated on a case-by-case basis. The supplement had no significant effect on conception, but the results suggest a beneficial effect on follicular development: there were more pre-ovulatory follicles in treated cows, and the dominant follicle was larger.