Energy intake in late gestation affects blood metabolites in early lactation independently of milk production in dairy cows

N I Nielsen, A Hameleers, F J Young, T Larsen, N C Friggens
Animal 2010, 4 (1): 52-60
The present experiment examined the effect of offering either a high- (H) or low- (L) energy-density diet in late gestation and early lactation on physiological parameters, body condition score (BCS) and milk production in early lactation. In all, 40 multiparous Holstein cows were randomly allocated to one of four treatments in a 2 × 2 factorial design, where the factors were H- or L-energy density in a total mixed ration (TMR) both pre- and post-calving. Consequently, there were four treatment groups: HH, HL, LL and LH. The pre-calving treatment was initiated 100 days prior to expected calving; the H TMR was fed ad libitum whereas the L TMR was restricted to 10 kg dry matter/day during late lactation, and to approximately 75% of energy requirements from drying off until calving. Both diets were offered ad libitum post-calving. Feeding diet H compared to L pre-calving led to higher BCS at calving (2.68 v. 2.34, P < 0.01). Energy corrected milk yield and energy-intake post-calving were not affected by pre-calving diets. Changes in BCS and blood concentrations of non-esterified fatty acids, beta-hydroxybutyrate and glucose in early lactation showed that cows offered diet H pre-calving generally mobilised more body reserves compared to cows offered diet L pre-calving. An interaction between pre- and post-calving diets showed that cows offered diet H pre-calving had lower body tissue mobilisation when offered diet H post-calving compared to diet L. Cows offered diet L pre-calving, did not mobilise differently whether they were offered diet H or L post-calving. The pre- and post-calving diets had no effect on liver triacylglycerol, whereas liver glycogen was higher in cows on treatment HH compared to the other three treatments. Collectively, these results indicate that overfeeding should be avoided in late gestation and that a high-energy-density diet is desirable in early lactation in order to obtain a more favourable metabolic profile.

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