Arm & Hammer Animal and Food Production
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Clostridia robs your herd of greater profitability.

Posted February 18, 2021 by Dr. Joel Pankowski, Ruminant Technical Services Manager

There are many unseen factors that can impair cow health and performance on a dairy. Usually those create challenges that don’t manifest into clinical problems, but still prevent cows from reaching their full potential. In order for your herd to reach maximum profitability, your cows need to perform at their genetic potential.

One of those hidden challenges is clostridia. An ARM & HAMMER™ study showed that clostridia strains can be found on nearly every dairy operation in the U.S. Clostridia spores are durable. They can lay dormant in soil and even survive the fermentation process. The study1 revealed that 83% of haylage samples and 57% of corn silage samples tested positive for clostridia.

A subclinical thief.

It’s a pathogen that comes in many forms, some of which have no impact on your herd. Of the more virulent strains, there are two primary categories. On the one hand, a certain group can have dramatic effects, causing hemorrhagic bowel syndrome, a leading cause of cow mortality. The other group often operates without readily visible impacts yet can have significant consequences for cow health and performance over the long term.

The Targeted Microbial Solutions™ in CERTILLUS™ are research-proven to be able to take the challenges of clostridia head on. Studies show that CERTILLUS impacts the entire clostridial cycle, helping reduce health challenges and moving cows toward a lower risk of disease. CERTILLUS can work in three areas:

  • In the feed to shift cows from high risk levels of Clostridia to lower risk
  • In forages to quickly convert carbohydrates to lactic acid, lowering silage pH to maximize fermentation and reducing Clostridia counts to lock in nutrients
  • In manure to accelerate decomposition of dairy waste, reduce odors and solids build up and maintain higher nitrogen content.

The type of clostridia that works at a subclinical level creates the most problems on a dairy. It doesn’t create a clinical episode that can be recognized and treated, but rather causes just enough harm to impair performance while proliferating under the surface. If this group of clostridia can be controlled, real economic benefit can be found on the dairy.

For instance, let’s say clostridia is robbing your herd of four pounds of milk per cow, per day. Instead of a 90-pound per cow tank average, you’re at 86 pounds per cow. At a $15/cwt milk price, you’re missing out on an extra $219,000 per year on a 1,000-cow herd. That doesn’t include the potential cost implications of poor rumen function, depressed intake and reduced immunity. Do the math on your own dairy to determine the impact clostridia could be having on your profit margin.

Create consistency.

When the impact of clostridia can be controlled, that leads to consistency in three important areas:

  • Consistent rumen function: Pathogens like clostridia can disrupt the microbial population inside the rumen, causing the entire digestive system to be turned upside down. When clostridia can be controlled, gut integrity can be preserved and rumination activity can be optimized.
  • Consistent intake: When the rumen is performing at a high level, there is nothing to impair intake. It’s a general rule that when cows eat more of a well-balanced diet, they produce more high-value milk.
  • Consistent manure: If the rumen is functioning properly and cows are eating well, you’ll see it in the consistency of the manure. It’s the best indicator of how well your cows are performing and what needs to be changed in order to keep internal systems working efficiently.

Clostridia can have a significant impact on your herd. Proper management, including feeding CERTILLUS in the ration, can create the consistency every dairy producer strives to achieve, along with the corresponding boost in profitability. Contact us to learn more about the benefits of controlling clostridia in your herd.




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About Dr. Joel Pankowski

Dr. Pankowski has a diverse background with animal nutrition companies including his current role as Senior Technical Services Manager at Arm & Hammer Animal and Food Production where he has been since May of 2011. Dr. Pankowski earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in animal science and dairy management from The Ohio State University and a Ph.D. in reproduction and epidemiology from Cornell University.



1 ARM & HAMMER survey. Data on file.

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