Association of residual feed intake with abundance of ruminal bacteria and biopolymer hydrolyzing enzyme activities during the peripartal period and early lactation in Holstein dairy cows

Ahmed A. Elolimy, José M. Arroyo, Fernanda Batistel, Michael A. Iakiviak, Juan J. Loor

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Background: Residual feed intake (RFI) in dairy cattle typically calculated at peak lactation is a measure of feed efficiency independent of milk production level. The objective of this study was to evaluate differences in ruminal bacteria, biopolymer hydrolyzing enzyme activities, and overall performance between the most- and the least-efficient dairy cows during the peripartal period. Twenty multiparous Holstein dairy cows with daily ad libitum access to a total mixed ration from d-10 to d 60 relative to the calving date were used. Cows were classified into most-efficient (i.e. with low RFI, n=10) and least-efficient (i.e. with high RFI, n=10) based on a linear regression model involving dry matter intake (DMI), fat-corrected milk (FCM), changes in body weight (BW), and metabolic BW. Results: The most-efficient cows had ~2.6kg/d lower DMI at wk 4, 6, 7, and 8 compared with the least-efficient cows. In addition, the most-efficient cows had greater relative abundance of total ruminal bacterial community during the peripartal period. Compared with the least-efficient cows, the most-efficient cows had 4-fold greater relative abundance of Succinivibrio dextrinosolvens at d-10 and d 10 around parturition and tended to have greater abundance of Fibrobacter succinogenes and Megaspheara elsdenii. In contrast, the relative abundance of Butyrivibrio proteoclasticus and Streptococcus bovis was lower and Succinimonas amylolytica and Prevotella bryantii tended to be lower in the most-efficient cows around calving. During the peripartal period, the most-efficient cows had lower enzymatic activities of cellulase, amylase, and protease compared with the least-efficient cows. Conclusions: The results suggest that shifts in ruminal bacteria and digestive enzyme activities during the peripartal period could, at least in part, be part of the mechanism associated with better feed efficiency in dairy cows.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number43
JournalJournal of Animal Science and Biotechnology
Issue number1
StatePublished - May 14 2018



  • Dairy cows
  • Enzyme activity
  • Peripartal period
  • RFI
  • Rumen bacteria

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Food Science
  • Biochemistry
  • Animal Science and Zoology

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