The product is designed to optimize the supply of vitamin E and therefore the calf’s vitamin E status.
It is generally accepted that after weaning, calves, especially veal calves, have a dip in immunity, said Per Theilgaard, category product manager at Vilofoss.
The physiological stress that can accompany the weaning period with diets changing from milk to solid feed and the movement of calves between animal groups and farms may increase the vitamin E requirement during and post-weaning. Calves at that time often show excessively low plasma vitamin E concentrations, making them more susceptible to infections. “This has long been a problem for the industry,” he said.
E-Force comprises a natural form of vitamin E, RRR-tocopherol, sheathed with lecithin, rather than the usual tocopherol acetate; it is highly bioavailable and more readily absorbed by ruminant animals than synthetic forms, reported Theilgaard, when we caught up with him at the Hanover-based trade show this week.
Published scientific studies show the use of the product will result in improved immunity of calves around weaning, and that it can lower their stress levels, he claimed.
In addition, the lecithin protection keeps the vitamin E stable for a longer period of time, and thus extends the product’s shelf life, said the developer.
Vilofoss recommends product supplementation of 10 grams per animal three weeks before and up to two weeks post-weaning.
Building the science
E-Force is the result of many years of work and wide stakeholder collaboration, with participation from academics, veterinarians, and slaughterhouses in its development, explained Theilgaard. “There is a lot of science and research behind it.”
Vilofoss and partners also secured funding for its R&D from Denmark’s Green Development and Demonstration Program (GUDP).
The findings of a Danish trial, written up in Livestock Production Science, showed feeding concentrate pellets enriched by RRR-tocopherol - the natural form of vitamin E - kept the plasma vitamin E above 3mg/L in calves post-weaning, a concentration level that is said to ensure a high immune function.
Lower plasma amyloid and cortisol values in calves post-weaning indicated reduced stress and inflammation levels in the animals as well, according to that study.
The paper also identified the challenges with the bioavailability of synthetic vitamin E forms: “Around weaning, the absorption efficiency of the acetate form of all-rac-α-tocopherol, the common form in feed additives, is low; most likely due to low carboxyl esterase enzyme activity in the intestine of the weaning animal, which is needed for the conversion of the acetate form to the absorbable alcohol form.”