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Food intake regulation in late pregnancy and early lactation

  • K. L. Ingvartsen (a1), N. C. Friggens (a1) and P. Faverdin (a2)


The dip in food intake, which starts in late pregnancy and continues into early lactation, has traditionally been interpreted as a depression in intake due to physical constraints. However, the rôle of physical constraints on intake has been overemphasized, particularly in early lactation. There is mounting evidence that the presence and mobilization of body reserves in early lactation play an important rôle in regulating intake at this time.

Conceptually, the dip in intake in early lactation observed when cows have access to non-limiting foods can be accounted for by assuming that the cow has a desired level of body reserves. When the cow is not compromised, the changes with time in body reserves and the dip in intake represent the normal case and provide the basis against which to assess true depressions in intake which may occur when the cow is compromised by limiting nutrition or environment.

The regulation of body reserves and intake in the periparturient cow is orchestrated through nervous and hormonal signals. Likely factors that are involved in intake regulation are reproductive hormones, neuropeptides, adrenergic signals, insulin and insulin resistance and leptin. Furthermore, oxidation of NEFA in the liver may result in feedback signals that reduce intake. The relative importance of these is discussed. A better understanding of the physiological signals involved in intake regulation and their interrelations with body weight regulation may provide important indicators of the degree of compromise that periparturient cows may experience.



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Food intake regulation in late pregnancy and early lactation

  • K. L. Ingvartsen (a1), N. C. Friggens (a1) and P. Faverdin (a2)


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