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Research from Ohio State University in the 1990s showed that increasing vitamin E supplementation above National Research Council recommendations greatly decreased mastitis cases as well as severity. This work was incorporated into the council’s 2001 recommendations increasing vitamin E intake from 350 to 1,500 international units per day during the dry period to reduce mastitis risk.
Further work by this group showed even higher vitamin E supplementation (4,000 units per day) had a greater preventive effect. From this work it was determined that cows having blood vitamin E concentrations below 3 micrograms per milliliter were nearly nine times at greater risk for mastitis than other cows were.
Dry cows consuming traditional stored forage diets will only maintain a blood vitamin E concentration around 1.5 micrograms per milliliter without additional supplementation. Studies not finding protective effects of vitamin E supplementation often did not achieve the desired blood status. Research from the University of Guelph showed beneficial effects of vitamin A supplementation on preventing mastitis cases in the first 30 days of lactation.
It was observed that cows having higher blood concentrations of vitamin A (retinol) were less likely to have mastitis in the first 30 days of lactation.
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