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J Dairy Sci. 2012 Mar;95(3):1323-36. doi: 10.3168/jds.2011-4744.

Effects of monensin on metabolic parameters, feeding behavior, and productivity of transition dairy cows.

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  • 1Department of Animal Sciences and Industry, Kansas State University, Manhattan 66506, USA.


The effects of monensin on transition cow metabolism may be dependent on modulation of feeding behavior, rumen pH, and expression of key metabolic genes. Multiparous Holstein cows were used to determine the effects of monensin (400mg/cow daily) on these variables. Cows were randomly assigned, based on calving date, to control or monensin treatments (n = 16 per treatment) 21 d before their expected calving date, and cows remained on treatments through 21 d postpartum. Feeding behavior and water intake data were collected daily. Liver biopsies were conducted after assessing BCS and BW on d -21, -7, 1, 7, and 21 relative to calving for analysis of triglyceride (TG) content as well as mRNA abundance of cytosolic phosphoenolpyruvate carboxykinase, carnitine palmitoyltransferase 1a, and apolipoprotein B. Blood samples were collected 21, 7, and 4 d before expected calving and 1 (day of calving), 4, 7, 14, and 21 d postpartum for nonesterified fatty acid, β-hydroxybutyrate, glucose, insulin, and haptoglobin analyses. Ruminal pH was collected every 5 min on d 1 through 6 postpartum via a wireless indwelling probe. On d 7 postpartum, a caffeine clearance test was performed to assess liver function. Data were analyzed using mixed models with repeated measures over time. Monensin decreased mean plasma β-hydroxybutyrate (734 vs. 616 ± 41 μM) and peak concentrations (1,076 vs. 777 ± 70 μM on d 4 postpartum). Monensin also decreased time between meals prepartum (143 vs. 126 ± 5.0 min) and postpartum (88.8 vs. 81.4 ± 2.9 min), which was likely related to a smaller ruminal pH standard deviation in the first day after cows changed to a lactation ration (0.31 vs. 0.26 ± 0.015). Monensin also increased liver mRNA abundance of carnitine palmitoyltransferase 1a (0.10 vs. 0.15 ± 0.002 arbitrary units), which corresponded to a slower rate of liver TG accumulation from d -7 to +7 (412 vs. 128 ± 83 mg of TG/g of protein over this time period). No significant effects of monensin supplementation were observed on milk production, liver cytosolic phosphoenolpyruvate carboxykinase, apolipoprotein B, plasma nonesterified fatty acid, glucose, insulin, or haptoglobin. No effects on disease incidence were detected, but sample size was small for detecting such effects. Overall, results confirm that the effects of monensin on transition cows extend beyond altered propionate flux.

Copyright © 2012 American Dairy Science Association. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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