Dietary cation-anion difference effects on performance and acid-base status of dairy cows postpartum

W. Hu, M. R. Murphy, P. D. Constable, E. Block

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Our objective was to examine the effect of dietary cation-anion difference (DCAD) on performance and acid-base status of cows postpartum. Sixteen Holstein and 8 Jersey multiparous cows were used immediately after calving to compare 2 DCAD [22 or 47 milliequivalents (Na + K - Cl - S)/100 g of dry matter (DM)] in a completely randomized design. The corn silage-based diets were formulated to contain 19.0% crude protein, 25.4% neutral detergent fiber, 15.0% acid detergent fiber, and 1.69 Mcal of net energy for lactation per kilogram (on a DM basis). An additional 2.3 kg of alfalfa hay was fed during the first 5 d postpartum, and then milk, blood, and urine samples were collected weekly for 6 wk. Repeated-measures (with an extra between-cow effect) mixed model analysis indicated that DCAD did not affect DM intake (18.2 and 18.3 kg/d), milk production (33.5 and 33.3 kg/d), milk composition (3.96 and 4.11% fat, 3.11 and 3.00% protein, and 8.95 and 8.83% solids-not-fat), jugular venous blood pH (7.395 and 7.400), HCO3- concentration (27.3 and 27.6 mEq/L), or partial pressure of CO2 (46.7 and 46.5 mmHg). Elevated coccygeal venous plasma branched-chain AA (431 and 558 μM) and ratio of essential AA to total AA (0.390 and 0.434) in cows with DCAD of 22 vs. 47 mEq/100 g of DM indicated that N metabolism in the rumen was affected, probably resulting in more microbial protein flowing to the small intestine. Urinary pH tended to increase with DCAD (8.12 vs. 8.20). Higher net acid excretion in cows with DCAD of 22 vs. 47 mEq/100 g of DM (-24 and -41 mM:mM) suggested that net acid excretion was much more indicative of acid load than blood acid-base parameters in cows postpartum. Intake of DM and performance of cows postpartum were not improved when DCAD increased from 22 to 47 mEq/100 g of DM, likely because cows immediately after calving respond more variably to dietary treatments and that makes treatment effects difficult to detect.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3367-3375
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Dairy Science
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2007


  • Acid-base status
  • Dairy cow
  • Dietary cation-anion difference
  • Performance

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Food Science
  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Genetics


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