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ARS Home » Midwest Area » Madison, Wisconsin » U.S. Dairy Forage Research Center » Dairy Forage Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #366197

Research Project: Forage Characteristics and Utilization that Improve Efficiency of Growth, Performance, Nutrient Use, and Environmental Impacts of Dairy Production

Location: Dairy Forage Research

Title: Nutrition strategies for improved health, production, and fertility during the transition period

item CARDOSO, FELIPE - University Of Illinois
item Kalscheur, Kenneth
item DRACKLEY, JAMES - University Of Illinois

Submitted to: Journal of Dairy Science
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 11/23/2019
Publication Date: 1/30/2020
Citation: Cardoso, F.C., Kalscheur, K., Drackley, J.K. 2020. Nutrition strategies for improved health, production, and fertility during the transition period. Journal of Dairy Science. 103(6):5684-56931.

Interpretive Summary: Dietary formulation and feeding management during the dry period, peripartal period, and early postpartum (fresh) period may influence health, productivity, and fertility of lactating dairy cows. Controlled-energy and negative dietary cation-anion difference (DCAD) diets fed during the prepartum period, and the supplementation of rumen-protected methionine and rumen-protected lysine, the most limiting amino acids, can improved performance of dairy cows in early lactation. These nutritional strategies may have their maximum effect when used together. This research will be of interest to dairy producers, nutritionists, and researchers interested in formulating dairy cow diets during the transition period from prepartum to early postpartum to minimize health risks, while optimizing production and fertility.

Technical Abstract: Dairy cow nutritional programs are a major determinant of the profitability of dairy farms. Despite this, the sustainability of the dairy enterprise is more than just cow nutrition. For almost fifty years, the NC-2042 project (Management Systems to Improve the Economic and Environmental Sustainability of Dairy Enterprises) has been addressing many of these components as part of individual and collaborative research investigations. This review has the objective to report the body of research developed by members of the group in connection with the existent literature on dietary formulation and feeding management during the dry period, peripartal period, and early postpartum (fresh) period. Peak disease incidence (shortly after parturition) corresponds with the time of greatest NEB, the peak in blood concentrations of NEFA, and the greatest acceleration of milk yield. Decreased fertility in the face of increasing milk production may be attributable to greater severity of postpartal NEB resulting from inadequate transition management or increased rates of disease. The depth and duration of NEB is highly related to DMI. Periparturient diseases can be a result from adverse ruminal conditions caused by excessive grain in the precalving or fresh cow diet, perhaps aggravated by overcrowding, heat stress, or other stressors. Others also have implicated inflammatory responses in alterations of metabolism, occurrence of health problems and impaired reproduction. Providing controlled-energy and negative DCAD diets prepartum are strategies that may improve dairy cow performance during the transition period. A major area of concern in the fresh cow period is sudden increase in dietary energy density leading to subacute ruminal acidosis (SARA), which can decrease DMI and digestibility of nutrients. Adequate physical form of the diet, derived from either forage NDF or mixing strategy, must be present to stimulate ruminal activity and chewing behavior. In conclusion, formulation and delivery of appropriate diets that limit total energy intake to requirements but also provide proper intakes of all other nutrients (including the most limiting amino acids methionine and lysine) before calving can help lessen the extent of NEB after calving. Effects of such diets on indicators of metabolic health are generally positive, suggesting the potential to lessen effects of periparturient disease on fertility.