Reproduction, Fertility and Development Reproduction, Fertility and Development Society
Vertebrate reproductive science and technology
RESEARCH ARTICLE

Fertility and the transition dairy cow

J. R. Roche A B G * , C. R. Burke A , M. A. Crookenden C , A. Heiser D , J. L. Loor E , S. Meier A , M. D. Mitchell F , C. V. C. Phyn A and S.-A. Turner A
+ Author Affiliations
- Author Affiliations

A DairyNZ, Corner of Ruakura and Morrinsville Roads, Hamilton 3284, New Zealand.

B School of Biological Sciences, University of Auckland, Private Bag 92019, Auckland 1142, New Zealand.

C DairyNZ, c/o University of Auckland, 3A Symonds Street, Auckland 1010, New Zealand.

D AgResearch, Hopkirk Research Institute, Palmerston North 4442, New Zealand.

E Department of Animal Science, University of Illinois, Urbana, IL 61801, USA.

F University of Queensland, Centre for Clinical Research, Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital Campus, Herston, Qld 4029, Australia.

G Corresponding author. Email: john.roche@dairynz.co.nz

Reproduction, Fertility and Development 30(1) 85-100 https://doi.org/10.1071/RD17412
Published: 4 December 2017

Abstract

The transition from pregnancy to lactation (i.e. the transition period) is a time of significant metabolic challenge, with a several-fold increase in a cow’s requirement for energy, protein and minerals within days of calving. A successful transition involves the initiation and coordination of changes in multiple tissues that facilitate the provision of these nutrients to the cow and, more specifically, to the mammary gland, often at the considerable expense of other tissues. Failure to coordinate the necessary changes effectively results in transition period maladaptation, which can broadly be grouped into three categories: (1) negative energy balance and metabolic diseases associated with energy metabolism; (2) immune dysfunction and inflammation; and (3) metabolic diseases associated with mineral deficiency. Because reinitiation of ovarian activity, follicle recruitment, ovulation, fertilisation and, potentially, even maternal recognition of pregnancy and implantation occur against the backdrop of this metabolic and immunological disturbance in early lactation, the role of nutrition in ensuring a smooth transition between the pregnant and lactating state is important. In this paper we integrate recent research findings with previous knowledge of the interaction between transition cow metabolism and nutrition and reproductive outcomes, and offer new insights into key elements of successful cow management to avoid transition ‘maladaptation’ and improve pregnancy rates.

Additional keywords: energy balance, exosomes, immunity, inflammation, metabolic disease, NSAIDs.


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