Articles | Volume 60, issue 3
Arch. Anim. Breed., 60, 205–212, 2017
Arch. Anim. Breed., 60, 205–212, 2017

Original study 20 Jul 2017

Original study | 20 Jul 2017

Milk fatty acid composition as an indicator of energy status in Holstein dairy cows

Lana Vranković1, Jasna Aladrović1, Daria Octenjak2, Dušanka Bijelić2, Luka Cvetnić2, and Zvonko Stojević1 Lana Vranković et al.
  • 1Department of Physiology and Radiobiology, University of Zagreb Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Heinzelova 55, 10000 Zagreb, Croatia
  • 2Students of Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, University of Zagreb, Heinzelova 55, 10000 Zagreb, Croatia

Abstract. Transition dairy cows often enter a stage of negative energy balance during which the utilization of energy reserves is reflected in the milk fatty acid (FA) composition. In this study, metabolic status was evaluated by measuring milk FA, ruminal short-chain FA (RSCFA), and serum biochemical parameters in Holstein cows. Samples (milk, rumen contents, and blood) were collected around days 30 (early) and 150 (middle) of lactation, and rumen contents and blood samples were collected 30 days before calving (dry). Fatty acids were extracted and FA composition was determined. Glucose, triacylglycerols, total cholesterol, low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C) and high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL-C), beta-hydroxybutyric acid (BHB), and non-esterified fatty acid (NEFA) concentrations were determined in serum samples. Lower percentages of saturated FA in milk and higher percentages of monounsaturated FA, polyunsaturated FA, and C18:1n-9 were observed in early lactation compared to mid-lactation. In rumen higher concentrations of propionic acid were determined at mid-lactation compared to early lactation. Acetic and butyric acid concentrations showed no significant differences between sampling intervals. In serum higher glucose concentrations were observed during the dry period and mid-lactation than during early lactation. Lower BHB and higher NEFA concentrations were noted during early lactation compared to mid-lactation and the dry period. Total cholesterol, LDL-C, HDL-C and triacylglycerols showed no significant differences between sampling intervals. The results of the present study suggest that determination of milk FA is a potential indicator of energy status in dairy cows.

Short summary
The aim of this study was to evaluate the energy status of Holstein dairy cows during different stages of lactation by investigating the fatty acids in milk and rumen as well as serum biochemical parameters. We sampled 12 Holstein cows. Our main results show reduced saturated fatty acids and increased mono- and polyunsaturated fatty acids around day 30 of lactation, which indicates a negative energy balance. We suggest the possible use of milk fatty acids as indicative of energy status.