METHIONINE is a functional amino acid, meaning that it regulates important biological functions other than just serving as a building block for proteins. For instance, methionine plays an important role in the antioxidative defense that is positively associated with health status of animals.
In dairy cows, one question that had remained to be properly answered is if methionine can reduce health disorders or at least lessen the negative effects of health disorders on cow performance. This was one of the questions evaluated and answered in research recently published in the Journal of Dairy Science. The researchers enrolled 470 cows from two different herds (University of Wisconsin-Madison and Cornell University). Within both herds, cows were either supplemented with rumen-protected methionine or not supplemented (control) from 21 days prepartum to 150 days postpartum.
Methionine-supplemented cows tended to have a reduced culling rate up to 350 days in milk (19.3% versus 13.1%). They also had a lower proportion of subclinical milk fever at the day of parturition (22% versus 13.6%; UW-Madison only) compared to control cows. Methionine supplementation did not seem to reduce any other health disorders such as mastitis, ketosis, retained placenta, or displaced abomasum.