The effects of body condition at calving food intake and performance in early lactation on blood composition of dairy cows given complete diets

Garnsworthy, P.C.; Topps, J.H.

Animal Production 35(1): 121-126


ISSN/ISBN: 0003-3561
DOI: 10.1017/s000335610000088x
Accession: 006661267

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In each of 2 trials, 3 groups of 8 cows, with condition scores of 1.5-2, 2.5-3 and 3.5-4 at calving, were given a complete diet for the first 16 wk of lactation. Food intake, milk yield, liveweight and condition score were measured, and related to levels of plasma glucose and free fatty acids, serum insulin, prolactin and progesterone in weekly blood samples, in an attempt to explain differences in food intake. In both trials, levels of plasma free fatty acids were high after calving for all cows and declined rapidly until week 8, after which they were fairly constant. Glucose and insulin levels increased after calving, producing curves similar to that for dry-matter intake in the first 8 wk of lactation. Prolactin levels fluctuated too markedly to provide useful information. Progesterone levels increased until week 7 and then fluctuated at 3-wk intervals coincident with estrus. Dry-matter intake was negatively correlated with free fatty acid levels and positively correlated with insulin in trial 1, and with glucose and progesterone in both trials.