The transition period is loosely defined as the period from three weeks pre-calving to three weeks post calving, and is regarded as a very important determinant of a cow’s lactation performance. Data were collated from three experiments in which blood was sampled repeatedly pre- and post-calving and milk production was recorded post-calving. Data were pooled within treatment and associations between blood hormones and metabolites, and milk production determined using regression analysis. Milk and milk solids (MS) yield were positively associated (P <0.05) with pre-calving plasma leptin and glucose concentrations and milk yield was negatively associated (P <0.05) with pre-calving non-esterified fatty acid (NEFA) and β-hydroxy butyrate concentrations. Milk yield was negatively associated (P <0.05) with plasma growth hormone, aspartate aminotransferase, and glutamate dehydrogenase concentrations in the first days of lactation, and with insulin like growth factor and glucose concentrations during the first five weeks post-calving. In comparison, plasma NEFA and albumin (ALB) concentrations post-calving and the ratio of NEFA to ALB were all positively associated (P <0.05) with milk and MS yield during the first five weeks of lactation. Data are consistent with a positive effect of calving body condition on milk production and an increased milk production with increasing condition score loss post-calving.
Proceedings of the New Zealand Society of Animal Production, Volume 70, Palmerston North, 51-56, 2010
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