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Effects of different transition diets on energy balance, blood metabolites and reproductive performance in dairy cows

McNamara, S., Murphy, J.J., Rath, M., O'Mara, F.P.
Livestock production science 2003 v.84 no.3 pp. 195-206
3-hydroxybutyric acid, Holstein, bile acids, blood, blood glucose, blood proteins, body condition, calving, dairy cows, diet, energy balance, energy density, grass silage, grasses, individual feeding, lactation, livestock production, metabolites, milk, reproductive performance, urea
The objective of this study was to evaluate the effect of diets differing in energy density (ED) in the last 4 weeks of the dry period and in the first 8 weeks of lactation on energy balance (EB), blood metabolites and reproductive performance. Three diets (grass silage:straw 75:25 on a dry matter basis (SS), grass silage (S) and grass silage+3 kg/day of concentrates (C)) pre-calving and two diets (4 kg (LC) or 8 kg/day of concentrates (HC)+grass silage ad libitum) post-calving were combined in a 3×2 factorial design. Sixty second-lactation Holstein–Friesian cows were blocked according to expected calving date and body condition score into groups of six and were then allocated at random to the treatments. Individual feeding started on average 34 days prior to parturition and measurements were made until the end of the 8th week of lactation. Net energy (NE) intake increased (5.6, 6.5 and 9.0 UFL/cow per day; (standard error of the difference (S.E.D.)=0.22) and EB improved pre-calving as the ED of the diet increased. Post-calving, milk energy output was significantly different between pre-calving treatments at 10.5, 11.6 and 12.7 UFL/day (S.E.D.=0.48) for SS, S and C respectively. Cows on the highest ED diet pre-calving (C) had a greater degree of negative energy balance (NEB) than cows on the lowest ED diet pre-calving (SS) for 7 of the first 8 weeks of lactation. At calving, cows on C had a lower plasma urea concentration than those on S and cows on SS had a lower plasma bile acid concentration than those on S. At week 2 post-calving, C had a higher plasma β-hydroxybutyrate concentration than SS and a higher plasma protein concentration than SS or S. Post-calving, cows receiving HC had higher NE intakes averaged over the first 8 weeks of lactation and lower NEB in each of the first 8 weeks of lactation than those on LC. Plasma glucose and bile acid concentrations were higher on HC compared to LC at week 2 post-calving. Plasma urea concentrations were lower (P<0.05) on HC compared to LC.