Body condition effects on dry matter intake and metabolic status during the transition period in Holstein dairy cows
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The objective was to evaluate dry matter intake, metabolite concentrations and milk production of cows with different dry period body condition score (BCS). In addition, to support these results with previously reported insulin resistance and adipose tissue mRNA data on the same cows. Multiparous Estonian Holstein cows (n = 42) were assigned to three experimental groups on the basis of BCS 28 days before expected calving (d –28) as follows: BCS ≤ 3.0 (2.25–3.00; thin (T), n = 14); BCS = 3.25–3.5 (optimal (O), n = 14); BCS ≥ 3.75 (3.75–4.50; over-conditioned (OC), n = 14). Blood samples were taken between d –21 and d 42 in relation to calving, milk production data were collected throughout lactation. The OC cows' adaptation to the demands of lactation was the worst based on the comparison of dynamics of blood parameters between BCS groups. They had the most unbalanced metabolism and used more stored lipids compared to T and O cows. Fatty acids concentrations in the first week of lactation, related to insulin resistance status in the dry period and DMI in the first days of lactation, describe most of the variation (R2 = 0.55) in BCS loss during the first 42 days of lactation.