Weekly blood samples were collected from 42 Friesian cows between 5 weeks before and 10 weeks after calving, and analysed for serum cholesterol, albumin, total protein, glutamate-dehydrogenase, sorbitol-dehydrogenase and ornithine-carbamyl-transferase and blood glucose.
Cholesterol concentrations increased 2½-fold during the first 8 weeks of lactation. There was also a transient decrease in glucose concentration at calving, but there was no relationship between conception rate and the concentrations of these two constituents.
Albumin concentrations decreased at calving in some but not all cows and remained low for up to 2 weeks. Average concentrations of albumin determined by two analytical methods, a HABA dye-binding and a single radial diffusion assay method, were significantly lower (P < 0·05) between 0 and 2 weeks post-partum in eight cows which required four or more services than in 32 cows which conceived after fewer services. Similarly, the average decrease in concentration over calving was greater in those cows which conceived only after four or more services (P < 0·01).
Globulin concentrations (total protein minus albumin) decreased during the 5 weeks before, and increased in the 3 weeks following calving. The net change over calving was significantly related to conception rate, and the albumin/globulin ratio was reduced (P < 0·001) in the eight cows requiring four or more services.
Activities of all three enzymes doubled after calving, but there was no correlation between these increases and the decreases in albumin concentration, suggesting that, if liver insufficiency is a factor, it is probably due to malfunction rather than tissue damage.