Effects of energy levels and sources on plasma metabolites and live weight of Holstein cows
The objective of the study was to evaluate the effects of nutritional treatments, which differed after calving, on energy levels and sources on plasma metabolite profiles and live weight (LW) changes as an indication of the nutritional status in Holstein cows. During the dry period, pregnant heifers (n = 69) and dry cows (n = 153) from Elsenburg Research Farm were maintained under similar feeding and management conditions. After parturition, cows had ad libitum access to cultivated irrigated kikuyu-ryegrass pastures, and were assigned to three concentrate groups, according to calving date, parity, LW and the milk yield of their previous lactation. The groups were supplemented with various levels and types of concentrate, of which the energy was provided by starch and fat. The control group was offered 7 kg/cow/day of a control concentrate supplement for both primiparous and multiparous groups, while concentrates in treatment groups were fed at 11.6 and 12.6 kg/cow/day for primiparous and multiparous groups, respectively. The control supplement was a maize-based concentrate, which contained low levels of starch. The concentrate components of the treatments consisted of high starch-low fat (HSLF) and a high starch-low fat/low starch-high fat (HSLF-LSHF) combination. The HSLF supplement was a glucogenic concentrate, which contained maize as the energy source. The HSLF-LSHF supplements consisted of a glucogenic concentrate, which was offered for the first 60 days in milk (DIM) as per the HSLF treatment, and was followed from 61 DIM with a lipogenic concentrate containing wheat bran and calcium (Ca) salts of long-chain fatty acids as the energy sources. The results showed that all cows mobilized their body fat reserves, as was evident in changes in plasma non-esterified fatty acids (NEFA) before and after calving. Postpartum plasma NEFA and β-hydroxybutyrate (BHB) did not differ significantly between nutritional treatments in multiparous cows. However, the postpartum levels of plasma NEFA and BHB were significantly higher for the control, indicating a status of advanced negative energy balance (NEB) and possible subclinical ketosis compared with HSLF and HSLF-LSHF treatments in primiparous cows. Postpartum plasma urea levels decreased significantly in both primiparous and multiparous animals in the control group, compared with the HSLF and HSLF-LSHF groups. As affected by time, postpartum LW was significantly lowest and LW loss was significantly highest in cows that received the control supplements compared with HSLF and HSLF-LSHF supplements for primiparous and multiparous cows. In addition, LW lossnadir and the number of days to reach it significantly increased in primiparous cows that received the control concentrate, compared with those of the HSLF and HSLF- LSHF treatments. However, this trend was not observed for multiparous cows. The findings of this study showed that HSLF and HSLF-LSHF treatments improved the nutritional status, as was evident in the reduced extent of NEB and limited LW loss of dairy cows, compared with those in the control group.
Keywords: Concentrate, dairy cattle, energy nutrients, nutritional status, pasture