Our previous study with mature dairy cows found that increased pasture intakes in early lactation resulted in more milk being produced but with no change in postpartum anovulatory intervals (PPAI). The present study used a 2 x 2 factorial to determine PPAI in 68 cows with pre- and post-calving diets that were iso-energetic, but varying in the ratio of structural to non-structural carbohydrate. At 36 ± 8.7 days prepartum, cows were assigned iso-energetic diets (114 MJ ME/cow/day) of either pasture/pasture silage (n=34) or the same diet supplemented with 3 kg DM/cow/d barley-maize concentrate (n=34). After calving, cows within each prepartum diet were assigned iso-energetic diets (179 MJ ME/cow/d) of either pasture/pasture silage (n=34) or the same diet supplemented with 5 kg DM/cow/d concentrate (n=34). Postpartum grain feeding reduced (P < 0.05) PPAI (28.4 ± 1.8 day) compared to the pasture/pasture silage only diet (36.4 ± 2.5 day). Prepartum diet did not affect PPAI. Body condition score was inversely related to PPAI at all time points (P < 0.05), but explained little (5-12%) of the variability in PPAI. Significant relationships to PPAI were also found for blood non-esterified fatty acids, urea and magnesium, but again, r2-values were ≤ 0.1. None of the milk characteristics measured were significantly related to PPAI. This study supports the premise that discrete or specific nutritional cues unrelated to general energy status can favourably target physiological functions in reproductive tissues at the brain and/or ovarian levels.
Proceedings of the New Zealand Society of Animal Production, Volume 66, Napier, 334-338, 2006
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