Safeguard Your Herd From the Inside Out

Holstein cow and calf

Calves have an increased susceptibility to illness. Heifers and cows must maintain proper gut health to achieve feed efficiency and a productive lactation. Cue direct-fed microbials (DFMs).

It’s long been proven that particular strains of bacteria support a healthy gut in cattle. Studies of Lactobacillus acidophilus (aka lactic acid bacteria) started in the 1920s, but antibiotics soon followed and became the main source to fight illness and bad bacteria. 

More recently, industry trends have shifted; producers and consumers alike are pushing to reduce or eliminate antibiotic use in the food system, and in turn, interest in lactic acid bacteria has been restored.

Prevention is the new standard. This starts with proper gut health. Studies have shown the benefits of these good bacteria – like Lactobacillus and Enterococcus – are many; they can enhance intestinal health by stimulating the development of a healthy microbiota, prevent colonization of intestinal pathogens, increase digestive capacity, lower the gut pH, and improve mucosal immunity.¹

Today, DFM products contain high counts of lactic acid bacteria to establish a healthy gut in calves and then maintain that healthy gut as they grow into heifers and cows.

Why feed DFMs to calves?

DFMs help calves establish and maintain a healthy gut and fight off bad bacteria that can result in illness, particularly diarrhea. Colonization of a newborn calf’s gastrointestinal (GI) tract begins immediately at birth. This is why it is critical to get calves off to the right start. In newborn calves experiencing acute challenges, the microbial population is sensitive; in other words, abrupt changes in the calf’s diet or environment can easily alter the microbial population of the GI tract and increase the chance for diarrhea (which is associated with a decrease of Lactobacillus in the gut).²

To help combat harmful bacteria population the gut, reduce the likelihood of diarrhea and get a calf’s GI tract off to a healthy start, you can feed DFMs with lactic acid bacteria. Early domination of HEALTHY microbials in the gut helps ensure calves experience a good start to life.

RumiLife® Pop™, Pop™ with NeoTec4® and PopPlus™ DFMs all contain high counts of CFU (colony forming units) of lactic acid bacteria to help establish a healthy gut population in calves. They provide 750 million, 1 billion and 26 billion CFU lactic acid bacteria, respectively.

The importance of DFMs in cows

An ideal cow is a cow that maintains high production while remaining feed efficient. To achieve this type of cow, proper care needs to be established; a cow can’t meet those expectations if she does not have a healthy and balanced gut microflora.

Studies have shown an increase in milk yield was a consistent response in lactating cows fed DFMs.2,3 Studies have also shown that cows fed lactic acid bacteria and mannanoligosaccharide consumed 0.42 kg less dry matter and produced 0.73 kg/day more milk.2 While there are many factors that can affect a cow’s gut health – such as diet, a cow’s disposition and physical environment, or the use of probiotics and/or prebiotics – the addition of DFMs can help maintain a balanced gut.

DFMs can also have beneficial effects in the rumen, particularly in helping prevent rumen acidosis. Research shows lactate-producing bacteria may cause microorganisms in the rumen to adapt to the presence of lactic acid, which can help limit acidosis in high-concentrate-fed animals.1,2

Not only do certain bacterial strains promote a healthy gut, but live yeast cells can also improve productivity in lactating and growing animals. Yeast has the potential to alter the rumen’s fermentation process and help other healthy rumen populations grow, thus acting as a type of prebiotic.1

RumiLife® RePop™ and RePopPlus™ DFMs contain 62.5 billion and 129 billion CFU lactic acid bacteria and live yeast cells, respectively. These DFMs can be used to help stabilize ruminal pH, enhance nutrient absorption, support a productive lactation and fight bad bacteria that result in digestive orders.

The goal for any producer is to have a healthy herd that achieves high production. It starts with establishing a healthy calf and continues with maintaining proper gut health as they enter the milking herd. Contact your GENEX representative today to order DFMs that will help keep your herd on track.


  1. Uyeno, Yutaka; Shigemori, Suguru; and Shimosato, Takeshi (2015). Effect of Probiotics/Prebiotics on Cattle Health and Productivity. Microbes Environ, 30(2), 126-132. Retrieved from
  2. Krehbiel, C R.; Rust, S. R.; Zhang, G.; & Gilliland, S. E. (2003). Bacterial direct-fed microbials in ruminant diets: Performance response and mode of action. Journal of Animal Science, 81(14), E120-E132. Retrieved from
  3. Tesfaye, Angassa; and Hailu, Yonas (2019). The Effects of Probiotics Supplementation on Milk Yield and Composition of Lactating Dairy Cows. The Journal of Phytopharmacology, 8(1), 12-17. Retrieved from

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