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

Just Accepted

This article has been peer reviewed and accepted for publication. It is in production and has not been edited, so may differ from the final published form.

ROCHEFertility and the Transition Dairy Cow

John R. Roche


The transition from pregnancy to lactation (i.e., the transition period) is a time of significant metabolic challenge, with a several-fold increase in the 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 mal-adaptation, 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. As re-initiation 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. We will 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 ‘mal-adaptation’ and improve pregnancy rates.

RD17412  Accepted 06 October 2017

© CSIRO 2017