The present study was conducted to evaluate the effects of long-term administration of recombinant bovine somatotropin (rbST) on the regulation of body fluids, mammary blood flow (MBF) and other variables relevant to milk synthesis, in crossbred dairy cattle (0·875 of Holstein–Friesian (HF) genes and 0·125 Red Shindi (RS) genes. Ten first lactation, non-pregnant, animals were chosen and divided into the control and experimental groups of five animals each. Four consecutive measurements were carried out in each group beginning on days 45 (pre-treatment), 105, 165 and 225 of lactation. Animals that had completed 60 days of lactation were injected subcutaneously every 14 days with 500 mg of rbST (POSILAC, Monsanto, USA) in the experimental group, while animals in the control group were injected subcutaneously every 14 days with 800 mg of sterile sesame oil, without rbST, as a control. All animals were fed with rice straw treated with 50 g urea/l as the source of roughage in combination with a similar concentrate throughout the experiments. During the treatment periods, the daily dry matter intake (DMI) was numerically greater for rbST-treated animals than for control animals, while the relative values of DMI per kg body weight and water intake showed no differences.
Animals in both groups gained weight throughout the experiment with no significant differences between the groups. Animals receiving rbST for 45 days increased their peak milk yield from 13·4 kg/day per animal during pre-treatment to 15·9 kg/day per animal (18·7% increase) on day 105 of measurement and this peak yield was higher (19·5%) than those of control animals in the same period. Milk yields on days 225 in late lactation of both groups significantly decreased (P<0·05) in comparison with the early and mid-lactating periods. Over the course of the experiment, milk yield of the rbST-treated animals was significantly higher than those of the control animals (P<0·01). The administration of rbST significantly increased MBF (P<0·05) and mammary plasma flow (MPF) (P<0·01). The ratio of MBF to milk yield slightly increased as lactation advanced in both controls and rbST-treated animals. The administration of rbST significantly increased the absolute values of both plasma volume (P<0·01) and blood volume (P<0·05) when compared with the control animals. The control animals showed no significant changes in values of extracellular water (ECW) throughout the course of treatment periods. The rbST-treated animals increased in both the absolute values and the relative (proportion of body weight) values of ECW throughout the experiment (P<0·05). The estimated values of intracellular water (ICW) in both groups showed no significant changes during the course of treatments. There were no significant changes in the water turnover rate (WTO) and the biological half-life of tritiated water in different periods of lactation in both groups. The absolute values of total body water space (TOH) and total body water (TBW) were significantly greater in rbST-treated than control animals (P<0·05). The relative values of both TOH and TBW as a proportion of body weight of control animals decreased, while no alteration was apparent in rbST-treated animals during the course of treatments. These differences were statistically significant (P<0·05). The absolute values of empty body water (EBW) of the control animals showed no significant changes, while animals treated with rbST tended to increase in absolute values of EBW throughout the course of treatments. The effects of these differences were statistically significant (P<0·05). There were no significant changes in relative values of EBW during the course of treatments in both controls and rbST-treated animals. These data demonstrated that the rbST exerts its galactopoietic action in part through increases in TBW, EBW and ECW in association with an increase in MBF, which partitions the distribution of nutrients to the mammary gland for milk synthesis. During this long-term administration of rbST, the stimulant effect for milk yield was less in late lactation despite a higher MBF. The decline in milk yield during rbST treatment without fall in MBF in late lactation must be attributed to a local change within the mammary gland.