Supplementing lactating dairy cows with a vitamin B12 precursor, 5,6-dimethylbenzimidazole, increases the apparent ruminal synthesis of vitamin B12.

Brito, A.F., Chiquette, J., Stabler, S.P., Allen, R.H., and Girard, C.L. (2015). "Supplementing lactating dairy cows with a vitamin B12 precursor, 5,6-dimethylbenzimidazole, increases the apparent ruminal synthesis of vitamin B12.", Animal, 9(1), pp. 67-75. doi : 10.1017/S1751731114002201  Access to full text

Abstract

Cobalamin (CBL), the biologically active form of vitamin B12, and its analogs, are produced by bacteria only if cobalt supply is adequate. The analogs differ generally by the nucleotide moiety of the molecule. In CBL, 5,6-dimethylbenzimidazole (5,6-DMB) is the base in the nucleotide moiety. The present study aimed to determine if a supplement of 5,6-DMB could increase utilization of dietary cobalt for synthesis of CBL and change ruminal fermentation, nutrient digestibility, omasal flow of nutrients and ruminal protozoa counts. Eight ruminally cannulated multiparous Holstein cows (mean±standard deviation=238±21 days in milk and 736±47 kg of BW) were used in a crossover design. Cows were randomly assigned to a daily supplement of a gelatin capsule containing 1.5 g of 5,6-DMB via the rumen cannula or no supplement. Each period lasted 29 days and consisted of 21 days for treatment adaptation and 8 days for data and samples collection. Five corrinoids, CBL and four cobamides were detected in the total mixed ration and the omasal digesta from both treatments. The dietary supplement of 5,6-DMB increased (P=0.02) apparent ruminal synthesis of CBL from 14.6 to 19.6 (s.e.m. 0.8) mg/day but had no effect (P>0.1) on apparent ruminal synthesis of the four analogs. The supplement of 5,6-DMB had no effect (P>0.1) on milk production and composition, or on protozoal count, ruminal pH and concentrations of volatile fatty acids and ammonia nitrogen in rumen content. The supplement had also no effect (P>0.1) on intake, omasal flow and apparent ruminal digestibility of dry matter, organic matter, NDF, ADF and nitrogenous fractions. Plasma concentration of CBL was not affected by treatments (P=0.98). Providing a preformed part of the CBL molecule, that is, 5,6-DMB, increased by 34% the apparent ruminal synthesis of CBL by ruminal bacteria but had no effect on ruminal fermentation or protozoa count and it was not sufficient to increase plasma concentrations of the vitamin. Even though the efficiency of cobalt utilization for apparent synthesis of CBL was increased from 2.0% to 2.7% by the 5,6-DMB supplement, this improved efficiency was still very low. Further research is needed to identify the factors affecting efficiency of utilization of cobalt for synthesis of CBL by the bacterial populations in rumen.

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