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Effect of dietary supplementation with fish oil during the transition period on milk production, plasma metabolites and postpartum anoestrus interval in grazing dairy cows


Effect of dietary supplementation with fish oil during the transition period on milk production, plasma metabolites and postpartum anoestrus interval in grazing dairy cows



Animal Production Science 51(5): 481-489



ISSN/ISBN: 1836-5787

DOI: 10.1071/an10178

Inclusion of fish oil (FO) in the diet of dairy cows could improve the energy status and milk yield and reduce the interval from calving to first postpartum ovulation, but the effects may differ depending on the specific period of supplementation. To test these hypotheses, 28 pregnant Holstein heifers were randomly assigned to four treatments in a 2 x 2 factorial design: prepartum oral drench of FO (0 or 140 g/cow. day) for 21 days before calving, and/or postpartum oral drench of FO(0 or 190 g/cow. day) for 21 days after calving. Prepartum, heifers grazed in native pastures with supplements of wheat silage and wheat bran, while postpartum, cows grazed on improved pastures with addition of concentrates and corn silage. No interaction between prepartum and postpartum FO was detected for any variable analysed. Prepartum and postpartum total DM intake, milk yield, protein yield and percentage were not different among treatments. Milk fat percentage (3.83 versus 3.34 +/- 0.10%) and yield (0.88 versus 0.73 +/- 0.04 kg/day) decreased with postpartum FO but were not affected by prepartum FO. Prepartum and postpartum body condition score and plasma concentration of non-esterified fatty acids and cholesterol were not different among treatments, but urea concentration was higher in cows drenched with FO during prepartum (5.91 versus 4.64 +/- 0.35 mM). Proportion of cows that ovulated the dominant follicle of the first postpartum wave and days to first postpartum ovulation, as determined by ovarian ultrasonography, were not affected by drenching with FO, but size of the dominant follicle in the first wave was decreased when FO was drenched only during the pre- or postpartum period compared with drenching in both periods. Dietary supplementation with FO during the postpartum period affected milk fat synthesis but more research is needed to establish its effects on resumption of ovarian activity in grazing dairy cows.

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