• 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.
    • Low numbers of ovarian follicles ≥3 mm in diameter are associated with low fertility in dairy cows

      Mossa, F.; Walsh, S.W.; Butler, Stephen T.; Berry, Donagh; Carter, F.; Lonergan, P.; Smith, G.W.; Ireland, J.J.; Evans, A.C.O. (American Dairy Science Association, 2012-05-01)
      The total number of ovarian follicles ≥3 mm in diameter (antral follicle count, AFC) during follicular waves varies among cattle of similar age, but AFC is highly repeatable within individuals. We hypothesized that lower AFC could be associated with reduced fertility in cattle. The AFC was assessed by ultrasonography for 2 d consecutively during the first wave of follicular growth of the estrous cycle, 4.6 ± 1.43 d (mean ± SD) after estrus, in 306 Holstein-Friesian dairy cows approximately 70 d postpartum. Cows were classified into 3 groups based on AFC: low (AFC ≤15), intermediate (AFC = 16 to 24), and high (AFC ≥25). During the cycle in which AFC was assessed and in subsequent cycles, cows were artificially inseminated (AI) following detection of estrus, and pregnancy status was assessed using ultrasonography. Cows with high AFC had 3.34 times greater odds of being pregnant at the end of the breeding season compared with cows with low AFC; the odds of a successful pregnancy at first service were 1.75 times greater in the intermediate compared with the low group. The predicted probability of a successful pregnancy by the end of the breeding period (length of breeding season was 86 ± 16.3 d) was 94, 88, and 84% for the high, intermediate, and low AFC groups, respectively. No difference was evident among groups in 21-d submission rate (proportion of all cows detected in estrus and submitted for AI in the first 21 d of the breeding season), but the interval from calving to conception was shorter in the high (109.5 ± 5.1 d) versus low (117.1 ± 4 d) group, and animals with intermediate AFC received fewer services during the breeding season (2.3 ± 0.1) compared with animals with low AFC (2.7 ± 0.1). Lactating cows with ≤15 ovarian follicles have lower reproductive performance compared with cows with higher numbers of follicles, but the existence of a positive association between high numbers of ovarian follicles and fertility is yet to be established.