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Environmental factors and dam characteristics associated with insulin sensitivity and insulin secretion in newborn Holstein calves

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  08 May 2015

M. M. Kamal
Department of Reproduction, Obstetrics and Herd Health, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Ghent University, Salisburylaan 133, 9820 Merelbeke, Belgium Department of Surgery and Obstetrics, Bangladesh Agricultural University, Mymensingh 2202, Bangladesh
M. Van Eetvelde
Department of Reproduction, Obstetrics and Herd Health, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Ghent University, Salisburylaan 133, 9820 Merelbeke, Belgium
H. Bogaert
Department of Reproduction, Obstetrics and Herd Health, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Ghent University, Salisburylaan 133, 9820 Merelbeke, Belgium
M. Hostens
Department of Reproduction, Obstetrics and Herd Health, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Ghent University, Salisburylaan 133, 9820 Merelbeke, Belgium
L. Vandaele
Department of Animal Sciences, Institute for Agricultural and Fishery Research (ILVO), Scheldeweg 68, 9090 Melle, Belgium
M. Shamsuddin
Department of Surgery and Obstetrics, Bangladesh Agricultural University, Mymensingh 2202, Bangladesh
G. Opsomer*
Department of Reproduction, Obstetrics and Herd Health, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Ghent University, Salisburylaan 133, 9820 Merelbeke, Belgium
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The objective of the present retrospective cohort study was to evaluate potential associations between environmental factors and dam characteristics, including level of milk production during gestation, and insulin traits in newborn Holstein calves. Birth weight and gestational age of the calves at delivery were determined. On the next day, heart girth, wither height and diagonal length of both the calves and their dams were measured. Parity, body condition score and age at calving were recorded for all dams. For the cows, days open before last gestation, lactation length (LL), length of dry period (DP) and calving interval were also calculated. The magnitude and shape of the lactation curve both quantified using the MilkBot model based on monthly milk weights, were used to calculate the amount of milk produced during gestation. Using the same procedure, cumulative milk production from conception to drying off (MGEST) was calculated. A blood sample was collected from all calves (n=481; 169 born to heifers and 312 born to cows) at least 5 h after a milk meal on day 3 of life to measure basal glucose and insulin levels. In addition, an intravenous glucose-stimulated insulin secretion test was performed in a subset of the calves (n=316). After descriptive analysis, generalized linear mixed models were used to identify factors that were significantly associated with the major insulin traits (Insb, basal insulin level; QUICKI, quantitative insulin sensitivity check index; AIR, acute insulin response; DI, disposition index) of the newborn calves. The overall average birth weight of the calves was 42.7±5.92 kg. The insulin traits were significantly associated with gender and season of birth when data of all calves were analyzed. In addition, the insulin traits in calves born to cows were significantly associated with MGEST, DP and LL. The Insb was estimated to be higher in calves born to the cows having passed a higher MGEST (P=0.076) and longer DP (P=0.034). The QUICKI was estimated to be lower in calves born to the cows having passed a higher MGEST (P=0.030) and longer DP (P=0.058). Moreover, the AIR (P=0.009) and DI (P=0.049) were estimated to be lower in male compared with female calves. Furthermore, the AIR (P=0.036) and DI (P=0.039) were estimated to be lower in calves born to cows having passed a longer LL. The decisive effects of MGEST, DP and LL in cows on the insulin traits of their calves may provide a basis for developing managerial interventions to improve metabolic health of the offspring.

Research Article
© The Animal Consortium 2015 

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