Virginiamycin (V) and Ionophores, such as Poulcox (active ingredient monensin sodium), are antimicrobial feed additives approved for use in cattle to improve performance. The effect of virginiamycin on Gram positive bacteria is similar to that of monensin (M) although the modes of actions differ. Very little information is available on the potential synergistic effects of V and M, especially in dairy cattle diets. The objectives of this study were to investigate the effect of combinations of V and M on the performance of dairy cows. Forty high producing Holstein cows were blocked according to previous milk production and randomly allocated to one of the following lucerne based total mixed diets: 1) Control, no medication (C); 2) Control plus 20 ppm virginiamycin (V); 3) Control plus 15 ppm monensin (M); 4) Control plus 20 ppm virginiamycin and 15 ppm monensin (V+M). The experimental period was from 21 days prepartum until 60 days postpartum. Data were analysed according to a randomized block design, using the model GLM procedure (SAS, 2001). Dry matter intake varied from 23.6 kg/d to 25.4 kg/d and did not differ between treatments (P>0.10). Milk production was higher (P<0.10) for cows receiving V+M (41.2 kg/d) when compared to cows receiving only V (36.6 kg/d), but did not differ from other treatments (P>0.10). Milk fat % was lower for cows receiving M (3.42 %) and the control (3.62 %) when compared to treatment V+M (3.86 %) (P<0.10). Milk protein and MUN did not differ. Body weight loss for the period from calving until day 60 postpartum, tended (P<0.15) to be less for cows receiving V+M (-8.1 kg) when compared to the control (-34.2 kg) and M (-31.9 kg) treatments. Both treatments M and V respectively, decreased blood BHBA and treatment M increased blood glucose (P<0.10) when compared to the control diet. Results suggest a complementary effect between the two additives monensin and virginiamycin when supplemented to early lactation cows.
Dissertation (MSc(Agric))--University of Pretoria, 2008.