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Anim Reprod Sci. 2003 Nov 20;79(1-2):45-56.

Effect of offering rumen-protected fat supplements on fertility and performance in spring-calving Holstein-Friesian cows.

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Teagasc, Dairy Production Department, Moorepark Production Research Centre, Co. Cork, Fermoy, Ireland.


The objective of this study was to evaluate the effect of two different rumen-protected fat supplements, on reproductive performance and milk production, in grass-based spring calving cows. Two hundred and one Holstein-Friesian cows with an average lactation number of 3.6 (20% first lactation, 16% second lactation and 64% third lactation or greater) were grouped into blocks of three on the basis of calving date, lactation number and previous lactation milk yield for cows of second lactation or greater and on the basis of calving date for first lactation animals. From within-blocks individual animals were assigned at random, within 10 days post-calving, to one of the following three treatments: (1) Megalac Plus 3% (MP; 0.4kg/day, containing Ca salt of palm fatty acids and Ca salt of methionine hydroxy analogue), (2) Megapro Gold (MPG; 1.5kg/day, containing Ca salt of palm fatty acids, extracted rapeseed meal and whey permeate), and (3) Control (C; unsupplemented). Cows were supplemented for on average 103 days (range 54-134 days). The average milk yield over the first 12 weeks of lactation was higher (P<0.05) for both fat supplements compared to C and was higher for MP compared to C over the full lactation. Both supplements reduced (P<0.05) milk protein concentration over the first 6 weeks of lactation. MPG increased (P<0.05) conception rate to first service compared to C. Conception rate to first service was similar (P=0.14) on MP compared to C. For pregnancy to second service, C had a higher (P<0.05) conception rate than MP. There were no significant differences between treatments in overall pregnancy rate, services per conception, number of cows served in the first 3 weeks of the breeding season or the 6-weeks in-calf rate. Comparing the combined fat treatments to C resulted in a higher (P<0.05) conception rate to first service for the fat treatments but no significant difference in overall pregnancy rate. In conclusion, fat supplements increased conception rate to first service but did not significantly affect the proportion of cows pregnant at the end of the breeding season.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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