Effect of continued metabolic acidification into the first 3 days of lactation on blood calcium status in postpartum dairy cattle: A randomized controlled trial

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Abstract

Although incidence of clinical hypocalcemia in postpartum dairy cows is low in US dairies, subclinical hypocalcemia after calving is common and has been associated with metabolic and infectious disease. It is widespread farm practice to feed a diet rich in anions to prepartum dairy cattle to support calcium homeostasis. However, this diet is typically discontinued at parturition, when calcium needs are still high. The objective of this trial was to determine the effects of extending metabolic acidification into the first 3 d of lactation in multiparous Holstein cows with the use of magnesium chloride (MgCl2) hexahydrate drenches on blood ionized calcium concentrations. Adult Holstein cows at a commercial dairy in their second or higher lactation, with a urine pH of 6.8 or less on the day of calving, were randomly assigned to either treatment or control groups, resulting in 13 cows in the treatment group and 14 cows in the control group. Treatment cows received 480 g of oral MgCl2 hexahydrate once daily for 3 d for continued acidification starting on the day of calving, whereas cows in the control group received no treatment. Urine pH was measured daily for 5 d, starting on the day of calving (0 DIM), to assess acidification status; blood was collected on day of calving (0 DIM), 2 DIM, and 4 DIM and analyzed for ionized calcium concentrations. Differences in blood ionized calcium and urine pH over time were compared using longitudinal data analysis. Urine pH was lower in treatment cows compared with control cows at 1, 2, and 3 DIM. Blood ionized calcium concentrations were different from baseline, taken at enrollment (0 DIM) and at 2 and 4 DIM in both treatment and control cows. However, no difference was detectable between treatment and control cows at 2 or 4 DIM with respect to blood ionized calcium concentrations. Oral supplementation with MgCl2 hexahydrate resulted in the desired acidification of urine pH in the treatment group, similar to feeding of an anionic close-up diet. Continued acidification of dairy cows until 2 DIM did not result in clinically meaningful higher blood calcium concentrations compared with controls, and further research is needed, to identify physiological reasons for this finding.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalJournal of Dairy Science
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - 2020

Keywords

  • dairy cows
  • DCAD
  • hypocalcemia
  • postpartum

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Food Science
  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Genetics

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