In early lactation dairy cattle suffer metabolic alterations caused by negative energy balance, which predisposes to fatty liver and ketosis. The aim of this study was to evaluate the metabolic condition of high yielding dairy cows subjected to three treatments for preventing severe lipomobilization and ketosis in early lactation. Fifty four multiparous Holstein cows yielding >30 L/day were divided into four groups: control (CN= no treatment), glucose precursor (PG= propylene-glycol), hepatic protector (Mp= Mercepton®), and energy supplement with salts of linolenic and linoleic faty acids (Mg-E= Megalac-E®). Treatments were administrated randomly at moment of calving until 8 weeks postpartum. Blood samples were collected on days 1, 7, 14, 21, 28, 35, 42 and 49 postpartum. Body condition score (BCS) was evaluated at the same periods and milk yield was recorded at 2nd, 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th, and 8th weeks of lactation. Concentrations of non-esterified fatty acids (NEFA), albumin, AST, ß-hydroxybutyrate (BHBA), cholesterol, glucose, total protein, urea and triglycerides were analyzed in blood samples. Cut-off points for subclinical ketosis were defined when BHBA >1.4 mmol/L and NEFA >0.7 mmol/L. General occurrence of subclinical ketosis was 24% during the period. An ascendant curve of cholesterol and glucose was observed from the 1st to the 8th week of lactation, while any tendency was observed with BHBA and NEFA, although differences among treatments were detected (p<0.05). BCS decreased from a mean of 3.85 at 1st week to 2.53 at 8th week of lactation (p=0.001). Milk yield was higher in the Mg-E group compared with the other treatment groups (p<0.05) Compared with the CN group, the treatments with Mp and PG did not show significant differences in blood biochemistry and milk yield. Cows receiving PG and Mg-E showed higher values of BHBA and NEFA (P<0.05), indicating accentuated lipomobilization. Supplementation with Mg-E also resulted in significant higher concentrations of cholesterol, BHBA, urea, AST and lower values of glycemia. This performance may be explained by the highest milk yield observed with this treatment. Treatments with PG and Mp did not improve milk yield, compared with control cows, but did not show metabolic evidence of ketosis, fat mobilization or fatty liver. These results suggest that treatment with Mg-E improves milk production but induces a higher negative energy balance leading to moderated lipomobilization and ketone bodies production, increasing the risk of fatty liver.
Fatty liver; ketosis; biochemical indicators; early lactation; transition period