Relationships between energy balance during early lactation and cow performance, blood metabolites, and fertility: A meta-analysis of individual cow data
This study was designed to contribute to the understanding of the relationships between energy balance (EB) in early lactation [4 to 21 d in milk (DIM)] and fertility traits [interval to start of luteal activity (SLA), interval to first observed heat (FOH), and conception to first artificial insemination (AI)], and their associated relationships with cow performance and blood metabolites between 4 to 150 DIM. Individual cow data (488 primiparous and 1,020 multiparous lactations) from 27 experiments was analyzed. Data on cow performance, EB (on a metabolizable energy basis), and fertility traits were available for all cows, whereas milk progesterone data (to determine SLA) and periodic blood metabolite data were available for 1,042 and 1,055 lactations, respectively. Data from primiparous and multiparous cows were analyzed separately, with the data sets for the 2 parity groups divided into quartiles (Q1–Q4) according to the average EB during 4 to 21 DIM (EB range for Q1 to Q4: primiparous, −120 to −49, −49 to −24, −24 to −3, and −3 to 92 MJ/d, respectively: multiparous, −191 to −79, −79 to −48, −48 to −22, and −22 to 93 MJ/d, respectively). Differences between EB quartiles for production and fertility traits were compared. In early lactation (4 to 21 DIM), moving from Q1 to Q4 mean DMI and metabolizable energy intake increased whereas mean ECM decreased. During the same period, moving from Q1 to Q4 milk fat content, milk fat-to-protein ratio, and plasma nonesterified fatty acid and β-hydroxybutyrate concentrations decreased, whereas milk protein content and plasma glucose concentrations increased in both primiparous and multiparous cows. When examined over the entire experimental period (4 to 150 DIM), many of the trends in intakes and milk production remained, although the magnitude of the difference between quartiles was much reduced, whereas milk fat content did not differ between quartiles in primiparous cows. The percentage of cows with FOH before 42 DIM increased from Q1 to Q4 (from 46 to 72% in primiparous cows, and from 41 to 58% in multiparous cows). Interval from calving to SLA and to FOH decreased with increasing EB during 4 to 21 DIM, with these occurring 9.8 and 10.2 d earlier, respectively, in Q4 compared with Q1 (primiparous cows), and 7.4 and 5.9 d earlier, respectively, in Q4 compared with Q1 (multiparous cows). For each 10 MJ/d decrease in mean EB during 4 to 21 DIM, FOH was delayed by 1.2 and 0.8 d in primiparous and multiparous cows, respectively. However, neither days to first AI nor the percentage of cows that conceived to first AI were affected by daily EB during 4 to 21 DIM in either primiparous or multiparous cows, and this is likely to reflect a return to a less metabolically stressed status at the time of AI. These results demonstrate that interval from calving to SLA and to FOH were reduced with increasing EB in early lactation, whereas early lactation EB had no effect on conception to the first service.
Publication history: Accepted - 15 January 2021; Published online - 6 March 2021
dairy cattle, energy balance, fertility, blood metabolites
Civiero, M., Cabezas-Garcia, E.H., Ribeiro-Filho, H.M.N., Gordon, A.W. and Ferris, C.P. (2021) ‘Relationships between energy balance during early lactation and cow performance, blood metabolites, and fertility: A meta-analysis of individual cow data’, Journal of Dairy Science. American Dairy Science Association. doi:10.3168/jds.2020-19607.