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Nutritional effects on resumption of ovarian cyclicity and conception rate in postpartum dairy cows

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  27 February 2018

W.R. Butler*
Cornell University, Department of Animal Science, Ithaca, NY, USA
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Increased genetic potential for milk production has been associated with a decline in fertility of lactating cows. Following parturition the nutritional requirements increase rapidly with milk production and result in negative energy balance (NEBAL). NEBAL delays the time of first ovulation thereby affecting ovarian cycles before and during the subsequent breeding period The effects of NEBAL on reinitiation of ovulation are manifested through inhibition of LH pulse frequency and low levels of glucose, insulin and IGF-I in blood that collectively restrain oestrogen production by dominant follicles. Upregulation of LH pulses and peripheral IGF-I in association with the NEBAL nadir increases the likelihood that emerging dominant follicles will ovulate. The legacy of NEBAL is reduced fertility after insemination in conjunction with reduced serum progesterone concentrations. Diets high in crude protein support high milk yield, but may be detrimental to reproductive performance. Depending upon protein quantity and composition, serum concentrations of progesterone may be lower and the uterine luminal environment is altered. High protein intake is correlated with plasma urea concentrations that are inversely related to uterine pH and fertility. The direct effects of high dietary protein and plasma urea on embryo quality and development in cattle are inconsistent. In conclusion, the poor fertility of high producing dairy cows reflects the combined effects of a uterine environment that is dependent on progesterone, but has been rendered suboptimal for embryo development by antecedent effects of negative energy balance and may be further compromised by the effects of urea resultingfrom intake of high dietary protein.

Invited Papers
Copyright © British Society of Animal Science 2001

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