Changes in a range of metabolites and body condition parameters in lactating cows were measured during early lactation to determine if any key indicators or combination of key indicators could be used as a predictor of length of post-partum anovulatory interval (PPAI). Fifty-three cows in a range of body condition scores were involved in the trial which ran from calving to 10 weeks post-calving. Plasma non-esterified fatty acids (NEFA) and serum cholesterol, glucose, betahyroxybutyrate (BOH) and urea content were measured in weekly samples. Live weight and body condition score (BCS) were measured weekly.Cows were categorised into four groups. Three groups were based on the post-partum anovulatory interval (PPAI). PPAI was defined as the interval between calving and the first evidence of oestrus behaviour. The fourth group contained all the two-year-old cows only. There was a calving interval of 31 days from the first to the last cow to calve. The nadir for live weight for all groups occurred one week after calving. Animals with a shorter PPAI had higher live weights on all occasions, with live weight at week 5 having the strongest association with length of PPAI (P<0.001). Mean BCS was higher for animals with a PPAI<60 days. Plasma urea concentrations were associated with PPAI at weeks 3 and 4 (P<0.01). NEFA and glucose were correlated with PPAI at weeks 3 and 4 only, respectively. There was no association between cholesterol or BOH with PPAI. These results demonstrate that the selected variables do not contribute greatly to prediction of PPAI. Those measures which give the closest association with PPAI are live weight, BCS and age.
Proceedings of the New Zealand Society of Animal Production, Volume 60, Hamilton, 15-18, 2000
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