Production, metabolism, and follicular dynamics in multiparous dairy cows fed diets providing different amounts of metabolizable protein prepartum and postpartum

J. P. Underwood, J. H. Clark, F. C. Cardoso, P. T. Chandler, J. K. Drackley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Our objectives were (1) to determine whether increasing metabolizable protein (MP) supply above requirements in late-gestation cows would benefit health, milk production, and reproduction; (2) to determine whether an increased supply of MP postpartum affects production; and (3) to determine whether supply of MP prepartum interacts with MP supply postpartum. Pregnant nonlactating cows (n = 60) blocked by expected parturition date were assigned to 1 of 3 prepartum diets from 21 d prepartum to parturition: 12% crude protein (CP) soybean meal (SBM) supplement (LSB); 15% CP SBM supplement (HSB); and 15% CP SBM plus animal-marine protein supplement (HMP). Diets were formulated to supply an estimated 924, 988, and 1,111 g/d of MP, respectively, at 11.5 kg of dry matter intake (DMI). After parturition, cows received diets containing 18% CP, either from SBM (SB) or SBM plus animal-marine protein (AMP) supplements, that provided 2,056 (SB) or 2,293 g/d (AMP) of MP at 21 kg of DMI; thus, treatments were in a 3 × 2 factorial arrangement. Milk production and DMI were recorded for 63 d postpartum. Prepartum DMI was lower at wk −3 for cows fed LSB compared with those fed HSB or HMP. Postpartum DMI did not differ significantly between cows fed SB and those fed AMP (20.8 vs. 19.6 kg/d). Milk production did not differ due to prepartum diets or postpartum diets. Milk fat and protein percentages were not affected by prepartum or postpartum diets. Cows fed AMP postpartum tended to produce more milk fat, but 4% fat-corrected milk (FCM) did not differ from SB-supplemented cows (33.6 kg/d vs. 32.2 kg/d). Gross feed efficiency (FCM/DMI) was greater for cows fed AMP postpartum (1.82 vs. 1.68). Prepartum concentrations of urea N in plasma were lower for LSB than for HSB and HMP, and HSB was greater than HMP. Postpartum concentrations of nonesterified fatty acids and β-hydroxybutyrate were greater for cows fed AMP postpartum than for those fed SB. Postpartum urea N was higher for SB than for AMP (14.4 vs. 12.5 mg/dL). Concentration of total protein in plasma was greater postpartum for cows fed HSB or HMP prepartum than for those fed LSB, and was greater postpartum for cows fed AMP than for those fed SB. Hepatic concentrations of total lipids and triglyceride did not differ among treatments. Hepatic glycogen was greater postpartum for cows fed SB postpartum. Feeding HSB or HMP increased the number of follicles 6 to 9 mm in diameter compared with LSB. The size of the largest follicle was increased by HMP compared with HSB. In conclusion, increasing the amount of MP fed to cows during the last 21 d prepartum did not affect milk production or BCS but increased plasma total protein concentration. Follicular dynamics were improved by increasing the amount of MP prepartum. Feeding HMP prepartum improved follicular dynamics prepartum and increased milk fat yield in wk 1. Feeding AMP postpartum increased efficiency of FCM production and plasma total protein. We found few interactions between prepartum and postpartum MP supply.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4032-4047
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Dairy Science
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2022


  • follicular dynamics
  • metabolism
  • metabolizable protein
  • transition period

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Food Science
  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Genetics


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