Acidogenic prepartum diets with negative dietary cation-anion difference (DCAD) induce compensated metabolic acidosis, which stimulates calcium (Ca) mobilization before calving and decreases clinical and subclinical hypocalcemia postpartum. This strategy is often combined with limiting dietary Ca concentrations, which historically has been used to mobilize Ca prepartum to prepare cows for lactation. Supplemental dietary Ca in combination with a negative DCAD formulation that does not reverse the effect of compensated metabolic acidosis may be beneficial. Our objective was to determine the effects of prepartum dietary strategies on dry matter intake (DMI), milk production, peripartal Ca status, and health during the transition period in multiparous Holstein cows (n = 81). Treatments during the last 28 d before calving were: (1) positive DCAD diet, +6 mEq/100 g of DM, target urine pH >7.5, low dietary Ca (0.40% DM; CON); (2) negative DCAD diet, −24 mEq/100 g of DM, target urine pH 5.5 to 6.0, low dietary Ca (0.40% DM; ND); or (3) negative DCAD diet, −24 mEq/100 g of DM, target urine pH 5.5 to 6.0, high dietary Ca (2.0% DM; NDCA). Preplanned treatment contrasts were: (1) CON versus (ND and NDCA), and (2) ND versus NDCA. Individual DMI were recorded daily. Cows were milked 3 times daily, with individual DMI and milk yield summarized by week. Whole blood sampled at calving and 24 h, 48 h, and 4 d after calving was analyzed for ionized Ca concentration, and serum was analyzed for total Ca. Prepartum urine pH for cows fed ND or NDCA averaged 5.7, whereas cows fed CON remained >7.5. During the 3 wk before calving, cows fed CON had greater DMI than cows fed ND or NDCA, with NDCA greater than ND. Postpartum DMI (% of body weight) tended to be less for cows fed CON than for those fed ND or NDCA prepartum. Thresholds for subclinical hypocalcemia were ionized Ca <1.0 mM at 24 h, and total Ca ≤2.125 mM at 48 h after calving. On average, blood Ca for cows fed CON indicated subclinical hypocalcemia, whereas blood Ca for cows fed ND or NDCA was greater than subclinical hypocalcemia thresholds for both ionized Ca and total Ca. No milk production differences were detected. Cows fed CON had an elevated adverse health score (calculated by assigning numerical values to recorded health events) and tended to have an elevated somatic cell count during the fresh period compared with cows fed ND or NDCA. Overall, an acidogenic diet prepartum without or with high Ca improved postpartum Ca status and health. Supplementation of additional Ca to the acidogenic diet had little effect.
- negative dietary cation-anion difference
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Food Science
- Animal Science and Zoology