Wathes, D. C.; Cheng, Z.; Bourne, N.; Taylor, V. J.; Coffey, M. P. and Brotherstone, S.
Differences between primiparous and multiparous dairy cows in the inter-relationships between metabolic traits, milk yield and body condition score in the periparturient period.
Domestic Animal Endocrinology, 33(2)
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During the early postpartum period dairy cows mobilize fat and muscle to support lactation. This is associated with alterations in blood metabolite and hormone profiles which in turn influence milk yield and fertility. This study developed models to determine how metabolic traits, milk yield and body condition score were inter-related at different times in the periparturient period and to compare these relationships in primiparous (PP, n=188) and multiparous (MP, n=312) cows. Data from four previous studies which included information on blood metabolic parameters, parity, milk yield, body condition score and diet were collated into a single dataset. Coefficients of polynomial equations were calculated for each trait between -1 week pre-calving and week +7 postpartum using residual maximum likelihood modelling. The completed dataset was used in a multiple correlation model to determine how the best fit curves were related to each other over time. PP cows had higher concentrations of insulin-like growth factor-I and lower beta-hydroxybutyrate concentrations throughout, higher leptin concentrations pre-partum and both the peak in non-esterified fatty acids and the nadir in urea concentration occurred earlier after calving. These differences were associated with significantly lower milk production. Leptin concentrations fell at calving and were related to body condition score. Insulin was negatively correlated with yield in MP cows only. In MP cows the relationship between insulin-like growth factor-I and yield switched from negative to positive between weeks +4 and +7. Both beta-hydroxybutyrate and urea were positively related to yield in PP cows. In contrast, in MP cows beta-hydroxybutyrate was negatively correlated with yield and urea was strongly related to body condition score but not yield. These results suggest that there are differences in the control of tissue mobilization between PP and MP cows which may promote nutrient partitioning into growth as well as milk during the first lactation.
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