A randomized controlled trial on the effect of incomplete milking during early lactation on ketonemia and body condition loss in Holstein dairy cows
Morin, P.A., Krug, C., Chorfi, Y., Dubuc, J., Lacasse, P., Roy, J.P., Santschi, D.E., Dufour, S. (2018). A randomized controlled trial on the effect of incomplete milking during early lactation on ketonemia and body condition loss in Holstein dairy cows. Journal of Dairy Science (JDS), [online] 101(5), 4513-4526. http://dx.doi.org/10.3168/jds.2017-13151
Plain language summary
Limiting milk production for a restricted period during early lactation could help reduce negative energy imbalance. Previous studies investigating this management strategy were conducted in research stations, but not in commercial dairies. A randomized controlled trial was conducted on 813 multiparous dairy cows from 13 herds. Limiting milk production for the first five days in milk was effective for reducing ketonemia and prevalence of hyperketonemia in the early postpartum period.
Limiting milk production for a short period of time in early lactation could be a relevant strategy to prevent hyperketonemia (HYK). From December 2013 to March 2015, 838 multiparous Holstein cows from 13 herds were enrolled in a randomized controlled trial evaluating the effect of incomplete milking in early lactation on ketonemia and its effect on body condition score (BCS) loss. Cows were randomly assigned 4 wk before expected calving date to 1 of 2 treatment groups, (1) a conventional milking protocol (CON) for which cows were completely milked or (2) an incomplete milking protocol (INC) for which a maximum of 10 to 14 kg of milk/d were withdrawn during the first 5 d in milk (DIM). β-Hydroxybutyrate (BHB) concentrations were measured from blood samples collected on each cow 3 times at weekly intervals. Hyperketonemia was defined as BHB ≥1.4 mmol/L. Body condition score variation in the postcalving period was calculated by subtracting BCS assessed at wk 7 from BCS assessed at first week after calving. Effect of treatment on ketonemia and prevalence of HYK were evaluated for 4 specific time periods: 1 to 3, 4 to 7, 8 to 17, and 18 to 26 DIM. Effect of treatment on ketonemia was investigated using linear mixed models with natural logarithm of BHB measurements as outcome and treatment groups as fixed effect. Generalized linear mixed models with HYK as outcome, using logit link, and treatment groups as fixed effect were used to investigate effect of treatment on odds of HYK. A logistic regression model with BCS loss (<0.75 or ≥0.75) as outcome and treatment groups and herd as fixed effects was used to study effect of INC on odds of having BCS loss ≥0.75. A total of 813 lactations had complete data and were used for statistical analysis of ketonemia and HYK. A total of 709 lactations had complete data and were used for analysis of BCS loss. Geometric means of blood BHB concentrations during the 1 to 3, 4 to 7, 8 to 17, and 18 to 26 DIM periods were, respectively, 0.72 (95% confidence interval = 0.66, 0.80), 0.66 (0.60, 0.73), 0.90 (0.80, 1.01), and 0.93 (0.83, 1.05) mmol/L for INC, and 0.65 (0.59, 0.72), 0.79 (0.72, 0.87), 0.94 (0.84, 1.06), and 0.92 (0.82, 1.04) mmol/L for CON. Cows in INC group had lower ketonemia during the 4 to 7 DIM period. Predicted prevalence of HYK during the 1 to 3, 4 to 7, 8 to 17, and 18 to 26 DIM periods were, respectively, 2.8 (3.2, 15.1), 4.6 (2.0, 10.0), 13.4 (8.4, 20.0), and 23.0% (17.4, 29.7) for INC and 2.6 (2.5, 13.8), 10.7 (5.6, 19.3), 19.4 (13.0, 27.9), and 21.3% (16.0, 27.8) for CON. The INC treatment reduced the prevalence of HYK during the 4 to 7 and 8 to 17 DIM periods. No association was observed between INC and BCS loss in the postcalving period. Overall, the incomplete milking protocol was effective for reducing ketonemia and prevalence of HYK during the early postpartum period.