Effects of prepartum diets varying in dietary energy density and monensin on early-lactation performance in dairy cows

J. A. Vasquez, M. M. McCarthy, B. F. Richards, K. L. Perfield, D. B. Carlson, A. L. Lock, J. K. Drackley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Our objectives were to evaluate the effects of prepartum monensin supplementation and dry-period nutritional strategy on the postpartum productive performance of cows fed monensin during lactation. A total of 102 Holstein cows were enrolled in the experiment (32 primiparous and 70 multiparous). The study was a completely randomized design, with randomization restricted to balance for parity, body condition score, and expected calving date. A 2 × 2 factorial arrangement of prepartum treatments was used; the variables of interest were prepartum feeding strategy [controlled-energy diet throughout the dry period (CE) vs. controlled-energy diet from dry-off to 22 d before expected parturition, followed by a moderate-energy close-up diet from d 21 before expected parturition through parturition (CU)] and prepartum monensin supplementation [0 g/t (control, CON) or 24.2 g/t (MON); Rumensin; Elanco Animal Health, Greenfield, IN]. Lactation diets before and after the dry period contained monensin at 15.4 g/t. During the close-up period, cows fed CU had greater DM and NEL intakes than cows fed CE. Calf BW at birth tended to be greater for cows fed CU than for those fed CE but was not affected by MON supplementation. Diet did not affect calving difficulty score, but cows supplemented with MON had an increased calving difficulty score. We found a tendency for a MON × parity interaction for colostral IgG concentration, such that multiparous MON cows tended to have lower IgG concentration than CON cows, but colostral IgG concentration for primiparous MON and CON cows did not differ. Postpartum milk yield did not differ between diets but tended to be greater for cows supplemented with MON. Milk fat and lactose content were greater for cows fed CU than for those fed CE, and lactose content and yield were increased for cows supplemented with MON. Solids-corrected and fat-corrected milk yields were increased by MON supplementation, but were not affected by diet. Overall means for postpartum DMI did not differ by diet or MON supplementation. The CU diet decreased the concentration of nonesterified fatty acids during the close-up period but increased it postpartum. Neither diet nor monensin affected β-hydroxybutyrate or liver composition. Overall, postpartum productive performance differed little between prepartum dietary strategies, but cows fed MON had greater energy-corrected milk production. In herds fed monensin during lactation, monensin should also be fed during the dry period.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2881-2895
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Dairy Science
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2021


  • controlled-energy diet
  • monensin
  • transition cow

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Food Science
  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Genetics

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