Feeding rumen-protected lysine to dairy cows prepartum improves performance and health of their calves

B. L. Thomas, A. R. Guadagnin, L. K. Fehlberg, Y. Sugimoto, I. Shinzato, J. K. Drackley, F. C. Cardoso

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Providing adequate concentrations of AA in the prepartum diet is pivotal for the cow's health and performance. However, less is known about the potential in utero effects of particular AA on early-life performance of calves. This experiment was conducted to determine the effects on dairy calves when their dams were fed rumen-protected lysine (RPL; AjiPro-L Generation 3, Ajinomoto Heartland Inc.; 0.54% dry matter of total mixed ration as top dress) from 26 ± 4.6 d (mean ± standard deviation) before calving until calving. Seventy-eight male (M) and female (F) Holstein calves were assigned to 2 treatments based on their dams' prepartum treatment, RPL supplementation (PRE-L) or without RPL (CON). At the time of birth (0.5–2 h after calving), before colostrum was fed, blood samples were collected. An initial body weight was obtained at 1 to 3 h after birth. Calves were fed 470 g of colostrum replacer (Land O'Lakes Bovine IgG Colostrum Replacer, Land O'Lakes, Inc.) diluted in 3.8 L of water. Calves were provided water ad libitum and fed milk replacer (Advance Excelerate, Milk Specialties Global Animal Nutrition; 28.5% crude protein, 15% fat) at 0600 h and 1700 h until 42 d of age. Calves were measured weekly, at weaning (d 42), and at the end of the experimental period (d 56). Plasma concentrations of AA were measured on d 0, 7, and 14 d using ultra-performance liquid chromatography–mass spectrometry (Waters) with a derivatization method (AccQ-Tag Derivatization). Final body weight was greater for M (87 ± 11 kg) than F (79 ± 7 kg). Calves in PRE-L tended to have greater dry matter (814 ± 3 g/d) and crude protein (234 ± 6 g/d) intakes than those in CON (793 ± 9 g/d and 228 ± 11 g/d, respectively). Calves in PRE-L had greater average daily gain (0.96 ± 0.04 kg/d) than calves in CON (0.85 ± 0.03 kg/d) during wk 6 to 8. Calves in PRE-L tended to be medicated fewer days than CON (4.7 ± 1.2 d vs. 6.2 ± 3.4 d, respectively). Calves in PRE-L-M and CON-F (2,916 ± 112 µM and 2,848 ± 112 µM, respectively) had greater total AA concentration in plasma than calves in PRE-L-F and CON-M (2,684 ± 112 µM and 2,582 ± 112 µM, respectively). Calves in PRE-L-F and CON-M (4.09 ± 0.11% and 4.16 ± 0.11%, respectively) had greater concentration of Lys as a percentage of total AA compared with calves in CON-F and PRE-L-M (3.91 ± 0.11% and 3.90 ± 0.11%, respectively). Calves in PRE-L tended to have greater percentage of phagocytic neutrophils (39.6 ± 1.59%) than calves in CON (35.9 ± 1.59%). In conclusion, increasing the metabolizable lysine provided to prepartum dairy cows had modest effect over offspring performance, with the major result being a greater average daily gain for calves in PRE-L during the preweaning phase (wk 6–8).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2256-2274
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Dairy Science
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2022


  • amino acid
  • average daily gain
  • in utero
  • phagocytosis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Food Science
  • Genetics
  • Animal Science and Zoology


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