• Effect of grass dry matter intake and fat supplementation on progesterone metabolism in lactating dairy cows

      Hutchinson, Ian A.; Dewhurst, Richard J.; Evans, A.C.O.; Lonergan, P.; Butler, Stephen; National Development Plan Ireland; Dairy Levy Research Trust Ireland (Elsevier Science B.V., 2012-09-01)
      Progesterone (P4) metabolism in dairy cattle can be manipulated by alterations in dry matter intake and diet composition. Our objectives were to determine the effects of grazing allowance and fat supplementation on P4 metabolism in lactating dairy cows. Forty mid- to late-lactation Holstein-Friesian dairy cows were used in a completely randomized block design, with a 2 × 2 factorial arrangement of treatments. Cows were assigned to receive 1 of 2 pasture allowances (ad libitum allowance [AL], 9.5 kg dry matter per day, or restricted allowance [R] 7 kg dry matter per day) and 1 of 2 fat supplementation treatments (750 g per day saturated fat [F] or no fat supplement [NF]). All cows received an additional 4 kg per day of concentrate. Grass dry matter intake (GDMI) was measured 5 wk after the initiation of dietary treatment. Cows were treated with prostaglandin F2α (PGF2α) to eliminate the endogenous source of P4, and two intravaginal progesterone-releasing devices (CIDR) were inserted into each cow for a period of 8 days. Regular blood samples were taken before and after the removal of the intravaginal progesterone-releasing devices, and analyzed for P4 concentrations. The half-life (t½) and metabolic clearance rate (MCR) of P4 was calculated for each cow. There was no effect of GDMI or fat supplementation on the t½ or MCR of P4. There was a tendency for an interaction between GDMI and fat supplementation on the t½ of P4; cows on the restricted-F diet tended to have a longer P4 t½ than cows on the ad libitum-F diet. It was concluded that greater alterations in GDMI than achieved in the current study are required to change P4 metabolism. A combination of fat supplementation and restricted feeding slows P4 clearance, which may have beneficial implications for fertility.
    • The effect of strategic supplementation with trans-10,cis-12 conjugated linoleic acid on the milk production, estrous cycle characteristics, and reproductive performance of lactating dairy cattle

      Hutchinson, Ian A.; Hennessy, Alan A.; Dewhurst, Richard J.; Evans, A.C.O.; Lonergan, P.; Butler, Stephen; National Development Plan Ireland (American Dairy Science Association and Elsevier Inc., 2012-05)
      The objective was to determine the effects of a protected (lipid-encapsulated) conjugated linoleic acid (LE-CLA) supplement on milk production, estrous cycle characteristics, and reproductive performance in lactating dairy cows on a pasture-based diet. Spring calving dairy cows (n = 409) on a single pasture-based commercial dairy farm were used in a completely randomized block design. Cows were assigned to 1 of 2 dietary supplements [LE-CLA (n = 203) or no supplement (control, n = 206)]. The LE-CLA cows received 51 g/d of a lipid supplement containing 5 g of both trans-10,cis-12 and cis-9,trans-11 CLA from 0 to 60 d in milk. Milk samples were collected 3 times weekly, and each sample was analyzed for progesterone to determine the interval to first ovulation and estrous cycle characteristics. Milk yield and concentrations of fat, protein, and lactose were measured every 2 wk. Cows were inseminated following visual observation of estrus. The breeding season commenced on April 8, 2009 and continued for 16 wk. Transrectal ultrasonography was carried out at 30 to 36 d and 60 to 66 d post-AI to diagnose pregnancy. The LE-CLA treatment resulted in a decrease in milk fat concentration (36.9 ± 0.06 g/kg vs. 30.7 ± 0.06 g/kg for control and LE-CLA, respectively) and yield (0.91 ± 0.02 kg/d vs. 0.84 ± 0.02 kg/d for control and LE-CLA, respectively); however, milk yield was increased by LE-CLA supplementation (24.7 ± 0.7 kg/d vs. 27.2 ± 0.7 kg/d for control and LE-CLA, respectively), resulting in no overall difference in milk energy output. No effect of LE-CLA was observed on any estrous cycle characteristics or measures of reproductive performance. These results support that in pasture-based systems of dairy production, where energy intake limits milk production, energy spared by CLA-induced milk fat depression is partitioned toward increasing milk yield rather than toward body reserves.
    • Effect of supplementation with different fat sources on the mechanisms involved in reproductive performance in lactating dairy cattle

      Hutchinson, Ian A.; Hennessy, Alan A.; Waters, Sinead M.; Dewhurst, Richard J.; Evans, A.C.O.; Lonergan, P.; Butler, Stephen; National Development Plan Ireland; Dairy Levy Research Trust Ireland (Elsevier Inc., 2012-07-01)
      Supplementary fat positively influences reproductive performance in dairy cattle, although the mechanisms involved are not clearly defined. Our objective was to determine the effects of four different fat supplements on follicle development, plasma steroid hormone concentrations and prostaglandin (PG) synthesis in lactating dairy cattle. Forty-eight early lactation Holstein-Friesian cows (21 primiparous, 27 multiparous) were used in a completely randomized block design. Cows were fed the same basal TMR diet and received one of four fat supplements: (i) palmitic acid (18:0 fatty acid; Control), (ii) flaxseed (rich in 18:3 n-3 fatty acid; Flax), (iii) conjugated linoleic acid (a mixture of cis-9, trans-11 and trans-10, cis-12 isomers; CLA), and (iv) fish oil (rich in 20:5 and 22:6 n-3 fatty acids; FO). All lipid supplements were formulated to be isolipidic; palmitic acid was added as necessary to provide a total lipid supplement intake of 500 g/day. Cows were synchronized to be in estrus on Day 15 of dietary treatment. All antral follicles were counted, and dominant follicles, subordinate follicles and corpora lutea were measured daily via transrectal ovarian ultrasonography for one complete estrous cycle. Blood samples were collected daily, and selected samples were analyzed for progesterone, estradiol, insulin-like growth factor-1, insulin, cholesterol and non-esterified fatty acids. Estrus was synchronized a second time, and liver and endometrial biopsies were collected on Day 7 of the estrous cycle. Gene expression was evaluated for a number of genes involved in prostaglandin synthesis (endometrium) and fatty acid uptake and utilization (liver). Fat supplementation had little effect on follicle development. Cows receiving supplementary n-3 fatty acids had lesser plasma progesterone (P4) and smaller corpora lutea than cows receiving the CLA or Control supplements. Effects of fat supplementation on the endometrial expression of genes involved in PG synthesis were minor. Hepatic expression of SREBF1, ASCL1 and FABP1 was reduced by FO supplementation. Reduced plasma P4 in n-3 supplemented cows may lead to a suboptimal uterine environment for embryo development and hence reduced fertility compared to cows receiving the control or CLA supplements.
    • Effects of lipid-encapsulated conjugated linoleic acid supplementation on milk production, bioenergetic status and indicators of reproductive performance in lactating dairy cows

      Hutchinson, Ian A.; de Veth, Michael J.; STANTON, CATHERINE; Dewhurst, Richard J.; Lonergan, P.; Evans, A.C.O.; Butler, Stephen; National Development Plan Ireland (Cambridge University Press: Published for the Institute of Food Research and the Hannah Research Institute, 2011-07)
      Conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) reduces mammary milk fat synthesis in a dose-dependent manner. Our objective was to determine the effects of lipid-encapsulated CLA (LE-CLA) supplementation on milk production, reproductive performance and metabolic responses in lactating dairy cows fed a grass silage-based diet. Seventy-two Holstein-Friesian cows (32 primiparous and 40 multiparous) were used in a completely randomized block design. Cows received either 80 g of LE-CLA daily or 60 g of calcium salts of palm fatty acids daily (control) from parturition until 60 days in milk. LE-CLA contained a 50:50 mix of cis-9,trans-11 CLA and trans-10,cis-12 CLA, resulting in a daily intake of 6 g of each isomer. Milk production and dry matter intake were recorded daily, and blood samples were collected 3-times a week. Blood samples were analysed for circulating concentrations of glucose, non-esterified fatty acids (NEFA), β-hydroxybutyrate (BHBA), insulin and insulin-like growth factor-I (IGF-I). Progesterone was measured in blood samples collected after the first post-partum insemination. Ovarian ultrasound examinations commenced at 8–10 d post partum and were carried out 3-times a week until first ovulation. LE-CLA treatment resulted in decreased milk fat concentration, with consequent improvements in energy balance and body condition score (BCS). The peak concentration of NEFA in blood was reduced by LE-CLA, but circulating concentrations of insulin, glucose, IGF-I, BHBA and progesterone were not affected. There was no effect of LE-CLA supplementation on the post-partum interval to first ovulation. Services per conception tended to be reduced. The reduction in milk energy output and improvement in energy status and BCS in LE-CLA-supplemented cows provides a strong rationale for further studies with greater cow numbers to test effects on reproductive performance.
    • Fertility of fresh and frozen sex-sorted semen in dairy cows and heifers in seasonal-calving pasture-based herds

      Maicas, C.; Hutchinson, Ian A.; Kenneally, Jonathon; Grant, Jim; Cromie, A. R.; Lonergan, P.; Butler, Stephen T.; Teagasc Walsh Fellowship programme; Teagasc postdoctoral fellowship; Dovea Genetics; et al. (Elsevier, 2019-08-22)
      Our objective in this study was to evaluate the reproductive performance of dairy heifers and cows inseminated with fresh or frozen sex-sorted semen (SS) in seasonal-calving pasture-based dairy herds. Ejaculates of 10 Holstein-Friesian bulls were split and processed to provide (1) fresh conventional semen at 3 × 106 sperm per straw (CONV); (2) fresh SS at 1 × 106 sperm per straw (SS-1M); (3) fresh SS semen at 2 × 106 sperm per straw (SS-2M); and (4) frozen SS at 2 × 106 sperm per straw (SS-FRZ). Generalized linear mixed models were used to evaluate the effect of semen treatment and other explanatory variables on pregnancy per artificial insemination (P/AI) in heifers (n = 3,214) and lactating cows (n = 5,457). In heifers, P/AI was greater for inseminations with CONV (60.9%) than with SS-FRZ (52.8%) but did not differ from SS-1M (54.2%) or SS-2M (53.5%). Cows inseminated with CONV had greater P/AI (48.0%) than cows inseminated with SS, irrespective of treatment (SS-1M, SS-2M, and S-FROZEN; 37.6, 38.9, and 40.6%, respectively). None of the SS treatments differed from each other with regard to P/AI in either heifers or cows. The relative performance of SS compared with CONV was also examined [i.e., relative P/AI = (SS P/AI)/(CONV P/AI) × 100]. Frozen SS achieved relative P/AI >84%. Bull affected P/AI in both heifers and cows, but no bull by semen treatment interaction was observed. In heifers, P/AI increased with increasing Predicted Transmitting Ability for milk protein percentage. In cows, P/AI increased with increasing Economic Breeding Index (EBI) and with days in milk (DIM) at AI but decreased with increasing EBI milk subindex, parity and with DIM2. Cows in parity ≥5 had the lowest P/AI and differed from cows in parities 1, 2, or 3. Dispatch-to-AI interval of fresh semen did not affect P/AI in lactating cows, but a dispatch-to-AI interval by bull interaction was detected whereby P/AI was constant for most bulls but increased with greater dispatch-to-AI intervals for 2 bulls. In conclusion, frozen SS achieved greater P/AI relative to conventional semen than was previously reported in lactating cows. Fresh SS did not achieve greater P/AI than frozen SS, regardless of whether the sperm dose per straw was 1 × 106 or 2 × 106. A bull effect for all semen treatments, as well as a dispatch-to-AI interval by bull interaction for fresh semen, highlights the importance of using a large team of bulls for breeding management.