Limit-feeding a high-energy diet to meet energy requirements in the dry period alters plasma metabolite concentrations but does not affect intake or milk production in early lactation

L A Winkelman, T H Elsasser, C K Reynolds
Journal of Dairy Science 2008, 91 (3): 1067-79
Limit-feeding dry cows a high-energy diet may enable adequate energy intake to be sustained as parturition approaches, thus reducing the extent of negative energy balance after parturition. Our objective was to evaluate the effect of dry period feeding strategy on plasma concentrations of hormones and metabolites that reflect energy status. Multiparous Holstein cows (n = 18) were dried off 45 d before expected parturition, paired by expected calving date, parity, and previous lactation milk yield, and randomly assigned to 1 of 2 dry-period diets formulated to meet nutrient requirements at ad libitum or limited intakes. All cows were fed the same diet for ad libitum intake after parturition. Prepartum dry matter intake (DMI) for limit-fed cows was 9.4 kg/d vs. 13.7 kg/d for cows fed ad libitum. During the dry period, limit-fed cows consumed enough feed to meet calculated energy requirements, and ad libitum-fed cows were in positive calculated net energy for lactation (NE(L)) balance (0.02 vs. 6.37 Mcal/d, respectively). After parturition, milk yield, milk protein concentration, DMI, body condition score, and body weight were not affected by the prepartum treatments. Cows limit fed during the dry period had a less-negative calculated energy balance during wk 1 postpartum. Milk fat concentration and yield were greater for the ad libitum treatment during wk 1 but were lower in wk 2 and 3 postpartum. Plasma insulin and glucose concentrations decreased after calving. Plasma insulin concentration was greater in ad libitum-fed cows on d -2 relative to calving, but did not differ by dietary treatment at other times. Plasma glucose concentrations were lower before and after parturition for cows limit-fed during the dry period. Plasma nonesterified fatty acid concentrations peaked after parturition on d 1 and 4 for the limit-fed and ad libitum treatments, respectively, and were greater for limit-fed cows on d -18, -9, -5, and -2. Plasma tumor necrosis factor-alpha concentrations did not differ by treatment in either the pre- or postpartum period, but tended to decrease after parturition. Apart from a reduction in body energy loss in the first week after calving, limit feeding a higher NE(L) diet during the dry period had little effect on intake and milk production during the first month of lactation.

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