Animal Production Science Animal Production Science Society
Food, fibre and pharmaceuticals from animals
RESEARCH ARTICLE

Development of a dynamic, mechanistic model of nutritional and reproductive processes in dairy cattle

K. Huber A , A. Kenez A , J. P. McNamara B D and S. L. Shields C
+ Author Affiliations
- Author Affiliations

A University of Veterinary Medicine, 30173, Hannover, Germany.

B Department of Animal Sciences, Washington State University, Pullman, WA 99164, USA.

C Elanco Animal Health, Pasco, WA, USA.

D Corresponding author. Email: mcnamara@wsu.edu

Animal Production Science 54(12) 1914-1917 https://doi.org/10.1071/AN14515
Submitted: 25 April 2014  Accepted: 20 June 2014   Published: 29 August 2014

Abstract

Our knowledge of genetics, nutrient metabolism and reproductive physiology demands an integrated systems approach to both research and on-farm application. Existing mechanistic, dynamic and biochemical models exist which describe (1) nutrient metabolism and control of nutritional processes and (2) estrous cyclicity in lactating dairy cows. The metabolic model contains a simple aggregated model of lipogenesis, esterification and lipolysis; however, it is not sufficiently detailed to provide a research framework for future research. The estrous model describes the cyclicity of follicular development as well as several key reproductive hormones, but it does not contain any nutritional control as we understand it. Therefore, we developed a more detailed model of metabolism in adipose tissue, including uptake of glucose and fatty acids, fatty acid activation to the AcylCoA form, lipogenesis from acetate and butyrate, esterification of glycerol and fatty acids, and lipolysis and release of fatty acids and glycerol. The estrous model was expanded to include control of follicular growth by IGFI (~1 mm increase in diameter for a 20 ng/mL difference in IGFI; and degradation of estrogen and progesterone (~1.6 % increase in degradation per kg DM intake equivalent). Changes in follicular growth due to IGFI and increase in steroid degradation due to increased metabolic rate (as happens during lactation) demonstrate subtle and unpredictable changes in hormonal cyclicity, similar in fact to the complex effects of anabolic and catabolic signals in the cow. The model demonstrates behaviour and sensitivity to nutrient uptake and metabolic rate consistent with known biological processes. This model may be used to help interpret genomic and transcriptomic data, to pinpoint the most effective ways to select and manage for changes in productive and reproductive efficiency.

Additional keywords: adipose, reproduction, systems biology.


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