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CholiGEM Meta-analysis of choline nutrition

Meta-analysis of choline nutrition: Impact on dry matter intake and productive performance in dairy cows

Key conclusions

 

Improvement in dry matter intake is important during transition and early lactation phase in dairy cows. Each 0.1-percentage point decrease in the average dry matter intake as percentage of body weight (DMI%BW) in the last 3 d prepartum affected health of the cows by :

·      Increasing the odds of metritis by 8%,

·      Increasing the odds of clinical mastitis by 10 % 

·      Increasing the odds of ketosis by 8 %

Based on two recently published meta-analysis on supplementation of rumen protected choline, it can be concluded that RPC significantly improve dry matter intake and productive performance during transition and early lactating phase which is critical and important in optimizing farm profitability.

 

 

Introduction

Sound animal health is the cornerstone of profitable animal agriculture. The three weeks either side of calving are the most important and vulnerable period for the dairy cow. Her metabolic needs increase dramatically, and how she copes with this high-energy transition period will impact how well she performs during the rest of the lactation. Therefore, having a good transition cow health management program is crucial for a successful dairy operation.

Transition dairy cows experience a decline in dry matter intake in the last week of gestation, and the early-lactation period is typically characterized by an increase in the incidence of disorders that compromise production and survival. Cows that fail to transition successfully into lactation are vulnerable to a number of problems (metabolic disorders) which occur just after calving. The fundamental productive and reproductive disorders during the transition period are divided into three principal axes:

A) Disorders related to energy metabolism (Ketosis, Fatty liver, Acidosis, and Displaced abomasum)

B) Disorders related to mineral metabolism (Milk fever, Hypomagnesemia, Lameness, and Udder edema)

C) Problems related to the immune system (Mastitis, Metritis/Endometritis, and Retention of the fetal membrane)

 

Transition cow biology: Scientific facts

  • Research shows that 50 - 60% of transition cows experience moderate to severe fatty liver (Bobe et al., 2004)
  • Daily fatty acid uptake by the liver increases 13-fold at calving, from 100 g per day to 1,300 g per day (Reynolds et al., 2003)
  • Drackley (2001) estimated that during the peak blood NEFA concentration, approximately 600 g fat is deposited in 24 hours, which corresponds to an increase in liver fat of 6 - 7% by weight

 

Discovering answers to the issues confronted by dairy agriculturists has been one of the key research areas among animal scientists. They found that optimizing the liver’s health during the transition phase can significantly reduce the metabolic disorders.

 

Relevance of metabolic disorders in today’s dairy context

In a research survey published in the Journal of dairy science (Suthar et. al, 2013), 5884 cows from 10 European countries were examined for the level of subclinical ketosis. It was found that, in Europe, sub clinical ketosis ranges from 11 - 36 % at the farm level which can clearly be correlated with leakage in the profits. Ketosis is linked with other metabolic disorders e.g. Retention of placenta (ROP) etc. which further increases economic loss to the farm. In the same study, it was found that cows with subclinical ketosis had 1.5 times greater odds of developing metritis, 9.5 times greater odds of developing clinical ketosis and 5.0 times greater odds of developing displaced abomasum.

 

Optimum liver health

In terms of health solutions, Choline nutrition has received the highest focus due to its role in better liver function during transition phase management and early lactation. Apart from higher production levels, Choline’s role in improving dry matter intake during transition phase, immunity and health creates a strong argument for increased provision of bioavailable Choline.

During the transition phase, Choline supplementation alters the plasma NEFA concentration. This increases the export of hepatic fat and results in less hepatic fat concentration and a reduced risk of fatty liver. If rumen-protected Choline is fed pre- and post-partum, it reduces the risk of clinical and subclinical ketosis and overall morbidity.

 

Research on choline nutrition

Supplementation of rumen-protected choline (RPC) has attracted major research efforts during the last decade, assuming that choline improves liver function by increasing very low-density lipoprotein exportation from the liver, thereby improving metabolic profiles, milk production, and reproduction. To understand better the importance of RPC, a meta-analysis was conducted (Elke et. al., 2019) to evaluate the effects of RPC supplementation, starting from d 20 (±12.2) ante partum to d 53 (± 31.0) postpartum, on feed intake, milk production performance and metabolic profiles of dairy cows early postpartum.

 

Figure1 : Meta-analysis, 2019: Effect of RPC on change in dry matter intake (DMI)

 

Arshad et.al, (2020) conducted another meta-analysis of supplementing rumen protected choline during the transition period on performance and health of parous dairy cows. Mixed model meta-analysis was conducted including the random effect of experiment and weighting by the inverse of the standard error of the means squared. Twenty-one experiments with up to 66 treatment means and 1313 prepartum parous cows were included in this meta-analysis. Prepartum averaged RPC feeding was for 22±6.0 day and post-partum averaged RPC feeding was for 57.5±42.2 day. Research data from year 1984 to 2018 was included in this up to date meta-analysis.

 

 

Table 1: Effect of choline supplementation on dry matter intake, body weight gain and Body condition score (BCS) in dairy cows

 

Parameters

Choline ion, g/d

Difference

P-value

0

12.9

Prepartum

DMI, kg/d

11.9

12.1

0.2

<0.001

BW, kg/d

676

699

23

0.03

BCS, 1 to 5

3.42

3.50

0.08

0.04

Postpartum

DMI, kg/d

19.2

19.7

0.5

<0.001

BW, kg/d

605

635

30

0.001

BCS, 1 to 5

2.98

3.07

0.09

0.008

 

Improvement of 200 g dry matter intake prepartum and 500 g postpartum with improved body weight and body condition score (Table 1) can be easily correlated with optimal metabolic health and performance from dairy cows.

 

Table 2: Effect of choline supplementation on milk yield, energy corrected milk (ECM) yield, milk composition and feed efficiency in dairy cows

 

Parameters

Choline ion, g/d

Difference

P-value

0

12.9

Milk yield, kg/d

33.2

34.8

1.6

<0.001

ECM, kg/d

34.8

36.5

1.7

0.001

Milk Fat, kg/d

1.29

1.36

0.07

<0.001

Milk Proetin, kg/d

1.06

1.11

0.05

<0.001

Milk Lactose, kg/d

1.65

1.66

0.01

0.003*

ECM/DMI

1.84

1.96

0.12

0.001

 

Meta-analysis of choline supplementation in twenty-one experiments significantly improved milk production, milk composition and feed efficiency (Table 2).

 

Correlation of dry matter intake with incidences of metabolic disorders

Reductions in dry matter intake and energy balance during transition period are associated with metritis, mastitis and ketosis. In a recent research (Baez et. al., 2019), a...

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