Changes in the metabolic profiles of dairy cows before and after calving that were mainly fed fodder beet (Beta vulgaris vulgaris L.) during the dry period

Changes in the metabolic profiles of dairy cows before and after calving that were mainly fed fodder beet (Beta vulgaris vulgaris L.) during the dry period
Peer reviewed

Abstract

Case history: Two commercial pasture-based farms within the North Canterbury district of New Zealand were feeding fodder beet (Beta vulgaris vulgaris L.) as a large proportion of the diet to cows during the dry period. On each farm 25 multiparous cows were blood sampled up to six times from 28 days before, to 21 days after calving (Day 0). Plasma samples were analysed for concentrations of β-hydroxybutyrate (BHBA), non-esterified fatty acid (NEFA), Ca, Mg and P, and aspartate aminotransferase (AST) activity. The first sampling visit was performed when cows were being fed their maximum intake of fodder beet.

Clinical findings: The mean body condition score (BCS) of cows on Farm 1 was 5.4 (95% CI = 5.3–5.6) and on Farm 2, 5.4 (95% CI = 5.3–5.6) at first sampling. Mean concentrations of BHBA increased between Days −15 and Day −8 then decreased postpartum on Day 2 before increasing again on Day 21. On Farm 2, concentrations remained low (<1.2 mmol/L) on all days of sampling. Mean concentrations of NEFA in plasma remained low during the periparturient period on Farm 1, then increased on Day 2. On Farm 2, concentrations were elevated above 0.3 mmol/L between Days −28 and −17 then decreased on Day −10, before increasing on Day 2. Mean concentrations of Ca, Mg and P were higher than threshold values on both farms prepartum. However on Day 2, there were 8/23 (35%) cows on Farm 1 and 6/23 (26%) cows on Farm 2 with concentrations of Ca in plasma <2.0 mmol/L, and 10/23 (44%) cows on Farm 1 and 8/23 (35%) cows on Farm 2 with concentrations of P in plasma <1.3 mmol/L. Mean AST activities remained relatively constant and below 130 IU/L on both farms at all sampling times.

Clinical relevance: On both farms, post-partum hypocalcaemia and hypophosphataemia were common after calving despite differing fodder beet feeding and mineral supplementation regimes. There was more variation in energy status, especially prior to calving. More research is required on factors affecting mineral and energy status in dry cows fed fodder beet.


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