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Symposium review: Integration of postweaning nutrient requirements and supply with composition of growth and mammary development in modern dairy heifers

Van Amburgh, M.E., Soberon, F., Meyer, M.J., Molano, R.A.
Journal of dairy science 2019 v.102 no.4 pp. 3692-3705
allometry, average daily gain, body composition, body size, body weight changes, breeding, calving, dairy heifers, economic sustainability, energy intake, guidelines, lactation, mammary development, mammary glands, milk, milk yield, nutrient intake, nutrient requirements, overfeeding, puberty, somatotropin
To optimize first lactation and lifetime milk yield, growth benchmarks were established to help meet the appropriate growth objectives of breeding weight and age at an economically viable time and to achieve the optimum body size and composition at first calving. These guidelines provide a framework that helps to minimize overfeeding and, thus, potential overconditioning of heifers, which can lead to postpartum metabolic issues and reduced milk yield. Concerns still exist that mammary development is impaired when body weight gain exceeds a certain threshold, which would negatively affects milk yield. The objective of this review was to integrate concepts of nutrient requirements, body growth and composition, mammary development, and milk yield to provide a systems-based perspective on first-lactation milk differences that have been associated with mammary development. Work in the early 1980s described the effect of high energy intake on mammary development and the relationship with circulating growth hormone linked the relationship between prepubertal growth, mammary development, and future milk yield. The primary outcome of that research was to provide an intuitive mechanism to explain why rapid growth during the prepubertal phase resulted in reduced milk yield. The observation of reduced mammary development could be repeated in almost every experiment, leading to the conclusion that high energy intake and increased average daily gain reduced mammary development through altered hormone status or some signaling processes. However, further work that looked at mammary development over the entire prepubertal growth phase recognized that mammary development was not reduced by high energy intake, and instead accumulated at a constant rate; thus, overall mammary parenchymal growth was a function of the time to reach puberty and the associated signals to change from allometric mammary growth. The mammary gland, similar to most reproductive organs, grows in proportion to the size of the body and not in proportion to nutrient intake during the postweaning, prepubertal phase. First-lactation milk yield, mammary development, and body composition will be further discussed in the context of mechanisms and opportunities.