Dr. Christiane Girard, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada
Sponsored by Canadian Science Publishing
For decades, dietary requirements for B vitamins have not been acknowledged in ruminants, claiming sufficient synthesis by the rumen microflora to prevent deficiency symptoms. However, these recommendations had never been updated to today's production levels. Dr. Christiane Girard’s work on B vitamins has challenged and led to the revision of this generally accepted concept. Dr. Girard’s work mainly focuses on how increased supply of B vitamins improves the metabolic efficiency of lactating cows while reducing the incidence of metabolic disorders in early lactation and improving reproductive performance. In addition, improved metabolic efficiency reduces environmental footprint of dairy farms. Providing an adequate supply of B vitamins is achieved either through vitamin supplements or nutritional strategies promoting the synthesis of these vitamins. Moreover, her studies aiming to increase the vitamin B12 content of animal products, especially milk and milk products, respond to the human health concerns about the risks posed by mandatory supplementation with folic acid of flours and cereal products for people whose vitamin B12 status is suboptimal. Her area of expertise was recognized as one of the top 10 research areas at the 2006 ADSA Annual Meeting. Indeed, due to the determination of Dr. Girard, B vitamin supplementation is now a common practice in many high producing dairy herds. Dr. Girard’s work has clearly led the path and truly made an outstanding contribution to improve estimations of supply and requirements of B vitamins. In a perspective of precision farming to optimize metabolic efficiency, meeting dairy cow requirements for B vitamins cannot be overlooked.