Better postpartal performance in dairy cows supplemented with rumen-protected methionine compared with choline during the peripartal period

Z. Zhou, M. Vailati-Riboni, E. Trevisi, J. K. Drackley, D. N. Luchini, J. J. Loor

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The onset of lactation in dairy cows is characterized by high output of methylated compounds in milk when sources of methyl group are in short supply. Methionine and choline (CHOL) are key methyl donors and their availability during this time may be limiting for milk production, hepatic lipid metabolism, and immune function. Supplementing rumen-protected Met and CHOL may improve overall performance and health of transition cows. The objective of this study was to evaluate the effect of supplemental rumen-protected Met and CHOL on performance and health of transition cows. Eighty-one multiparous Holstein cows were used in a randomized, complete, unbalanced block design with 2 × 2 factorial arrangement of Met (Smartamine M, Adisseo NA, Alpharetta, GA) and CHOL (ReaShure, Balchem Inc., New Hampton, NY) inclusion (with or without). Treatments (20 to 21 cows each) were control (CON), CON+Met (SMA), CON+CHOL (REA), and CON+Met+CHOL (MIX). From −50 to −21 d before expected calving, all cows received the same diet (1.40 Mcal of NEL/kg of DM) with no Met or CHOL. From −21 d to calving, cows received the same close-up diet (1.52 Mcal of NEL/kg of DM) and were assigned randomly to treatments (CON, SMA, REA, or MIX) supplied as top dresses. From calving to 30 DIM, cows were fed the same postpartal diet (1.71 Mcal of NEL/kg of DM) and continued to receive the same treatments through 30 DIM. The Met supplementation was adjusted daily at 0.08% DM of diet and REA was supplemented at 60 g/d. Incidence of clinical ketosis and retained placenta tended to be lower in Met-supplemented cows. Supplementation of Met (SMA, MIX) led to greater DMI compared with other treatments (CON, REA) in both close-up (14.3 vs. 13.2 kg/d, SEM 0.3) and first 30 d postpartum (19.2 vs. 17.2 kg/d, SEM 0.6). Cows supplemented with Met (SMA, MIX) had greater yields of milk (44.2 vs. 40.4 kg/d, SEM 1.2), ECM (44.6 vs. 40.5 kg/d, SEM 1.0), and FCM (44.6 vs. 40.8 kg/d, SEM 1.0) compared with other (CON, REA) treatments. Milk fat content did not differ in response to Met or CHOL. However, milk protein content was greater in Met-supplemented (3.32% vs. 3.14%, SEM 0.04%) but not CHOL-supplemented (3.27 vs. 3.19%, SEM 0.04%) cows. Supplemental CHOL led to greater blood glucose and insulin concentrations with lower glucose:insulin ratio. No Met or CHOL effects were detected for blood fatty acids or BHB, but a Met × time effect was observed for fatty acids due to higher concentrations on d 20. Results from the present study indicate that peripartal supplementation of rumen-protected Met but not CHOL has positive effects on cow performance.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)8716-8732
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Dairy Science
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 1 2016


  • choline
  • methionine
  • transition cow

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Food Science
  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Genetics


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