Prepartal standing behavior as a parameter for early detection of postpartal subclinical ketosis associated with inflammation and liver function biomarkers in peripartal dairy cows

S. Rodriguez-Jimenez, K. J. Haerr, E. Trevisi, J. J. Loor, F. C. Cardoso, J. S. Osorio

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


A degree of negative energy balance is commonly experienced by cows during early lactation. This physiological state, if pronounced or prolonged, leads to partial oxidation of nonesterified fatty acids as an energy source and, consequently, increasing blood β-hydroxybutyrate (BHB) concentrations and potentially development of ketosis in postpartal dairy cows. Twenty-four multiparous Holstein cows received a common prepartal and postpartal diet. Cows were fitted with an accelerometer mounted laterally on the distal left hind leg using vet wrap from −30 to 15 d relative to parturition. A retrospective analysis was performed using the postpartal BHB data at 8 time points from 0 to 15 d in milk measured with the Precision Xtra (Abbott Diabetes Care, Alameda, CA). Cows with an average blood BHB <1.4 mmol/L were designated nonketotic (NONKET; n = 12), and those with ≥1.4 mmol/L were designated ketotic (KET; n = 12). A total of 8 samples per cow were used for this analysis. Subsequent analyses of behavioral patterns and blood biomarkers were performed using this group effect. On average, blood BHB reached subclinical levels (1.4 ± 0.3 mmol/L; mean ± standard error of the mean) at 3 d postpartum for all cows in this study. Behavioral patterns were obtained from accelerometer data, and correlation analysis was performed between these behaviors such as standing and lying time from −30 to 3 d relative to parturition and blood BHB concentration at 3 d postpartum. The strongest correlation was obtained between standing time at 3 d before calving and blood BHB at 3 d postpartum. Dry matter intake was greater (ca. 3 kg/d) in NONKET cows than in KET cows. An interaction of group × time for milk yield resulted in an overall increase of 5.7 kg/d in NONKET cows in comparison with KET. The blood concentrations of biomarkers for liver function (γ-glutamyltransferase and glutamic-oxaloacetic transaminase), inflammation (IL-6), and metabolism (nonesterified fatty acids) were increased at various time points in KET cows in comparison with NONKET during the transition period. Overall, lower bilirubin in NONKET cows than in KET further confirmed an impaired liver function in the latter group of cows. Our findings revealed the potential for establishing correlations between prepartal behavioral patterns derived from accelerometer data and postpartal subclinical ketosis, and further confirming the latter by physiological alterations in biomarkers related to inflammation and liver function. Our data also indicate that cows with a predisposition to postpartal subclinical or clinical ketosis will remain standing for fewer hours during the days leading to parturition, which decreased DMI, and this condition was further reflected in lower milk yield.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)8224-8235
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Dairy Science
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2018


  • behavior
  • subclinical ketosis
  • transition cow

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Food Science
  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Genetics


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