Livestock Science

Moallem, U. - Department of Ruminant Science, Institute of Animal Sciences, the Volcani Center, 68 HaMaccabim Road, Rishon LeZion, 7505101, Israel.  
Lehrer, H. - Department of Ruminant Science, Institute of Animal Sciences, the Volcani Center, 68 HaMaccabim Road, Rishon LeZion, 7505101, Israel.

Livshits, L. - Department of Ruminant Science, Institute of Animal Sciences, the Volcani Center, 68 HaMaccabim Road, Rishon LeZion, 7505101, Israel.  
Zachut, M. - Department of Ruminant Science, Institute of Animal Sciences, the Volcani Center, 68 HaMaccabim Road, Rishon LeZion, 7505101, Israel

Among the long-chain fatty acids (FA), the omega-3 (n-3) FA have the most potent immunomodulatory activities. In the present large-scale study, we tested the effects of supplementation of α-linolenic acid (ALA) from flaxseed commenced at the dry period on milk yield, health and fertility of dairy cows. Cows in a large commercial dairy farm were randomly divided into two groups 21 days before expected calving. During the dry period, cows in the treatment group were fed a diet that contained, on a DM basis, 40 g/kg of an extruded flaxseed supplement (EFLX; n = 276); their postpartum diet contained 50 g/kg of the same supplement. The cows were group-fed, and based on average cow's intake, the EFLX cows consumed 80 and 220 g ALA/day per cow prepartum and postpartum, respectively. The control cows received a diet with a different composition but a similar content of nutrients (CTL; n = 240). A veterinarian routinely examined the cows 7 to 10 days after calving, treated them according to the farm's routine practice, and determined their body condition score at that visit and at peak lactation. Milk yield was 4.5% greater (1.8 kg/day; P < 0.0001), and fat (P < 0.0001) and protein (P = 0.002) contents were lower in the EFLX vs. CTL group. The proportion of n-3 FA in milk was 3.9 times higher in EFLX than in CTL cows (P < 0.0001), and the omega-6 (n-6):n-3 ratio in the milk fat decreased from 13.0 in the CTL cows to 4.1 in the EFLX cows (P < 0.0001). The unsaturated FA content in milk fat was 20.1% greater in EFLX than in CTL cows (P < 0.0001). Ketosis incidence was lower in the EFLX vs. CTL group, 23.5 and 31.2%, respectively (P = 0.05), and ketosis was less severe in the former (P = 0.03). The mortality rates in EFLX and CTL cows were 0.7 and 4.6%, respectively (P = 0.005). No differences were observed in conception rates at first or second insemination, but days from first service to conception and calving to conception were 17 (P = 0.07) and 18 days (P = 0.09) less in the EFLX cows, respectively. In conclusion, supplementation of EFLX to dairy cows from the dry period increased milk yield, decreased incidence of ketosis and severe metritis, reduced mortality, and tended to enhance fertility performance. Overall, ALA supplementation improved milk quality and was beneficial to the cow's health and fertility. 

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The effects of omega-3 α-linolenic acid from flaxseed oil supplemented to high-yielding dairy cows on production, health, and fertility
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Moallem, U. - Department of Ruminant Science, Institute of Animal Sciences, the Volcani Center, 68 HaMaccabim Road, Rishon LeZion, 7505101, Israel.  
Lehrer, H. - Department of Ruminant Science, Institute of Animal Sciences, the Volcani Center, 68 HaMaccabim Road, Rishon LeZion, 7505101, Israel.

Livshits, L. - Department of Ruminant Science, Institute of Animal Sciences, the Volcani Center, 68 HaMaccabim Road, Rishon LeZion, 7505101, Israel.  
Zachut, M. - Department of Ruminant Science, Institute of Animal Sciences, the Volcani Center, 68 HaMaccabim Road, Rishon LeZion, 7505101, Israel

The effects of omega-3 α-linolenic acid from flaxseed oil supplemented to high-yielding dairy cows on production, health, and fertility

Among the long-chain fatty acids (FA), the omega-3 (n-3) FA have the most potent immunomodulatory activities. In the present large-scale study, we tested the effects of supplementation of α-linolenic acid (ALA) from flaxseed commenced at the dry period on milk yield, health and fertility of dairy cows. Cows in a large commercial dairy farm were randomly divided into two groups 21 days before expected calving. During the dry period, cows in the treatment group were fed a diet that contained, on a DM basis, 40 g/kg of an extruded flaxseed supplement (EFLX; n = 276); their postpartum diet contained 50 g/kg of the same supplement. The cows were group-fed, and based on average cow's intake, the EFLX cows consumed 80 and 220 g ALA/day per cow prepartum and postpartum, respectively. The control cows received a diet with a different composition but a similar content of nutrients (CTL; n = 240). A veterinarian routinely examined the cows 7 to 10 days after calving, treated them according to the farm's routine practice, and determined their body condition score at that visit and at peak lactation. Milk yield was 4.5% greater (1.8 kg/day; P < 0.0001), and fat (P < 0.0001) and protein (P = 0.002) contents were lower in the EFLX vs. CTL group. The proportion of n-3 FA in milk was 3.9 times higher in EFLX than in CTL cows (P < 0.0001), and the omega-6 (n-6):n-3 ratio in the milk fat decreased from 13.0 in the CTL cows to 4.1 in the EFLX cows (P < 0.0001). The unsaturated FA content in milk fat was 20.1% greater in EFLX than in CTL cows (P < 0.0001). Ketosis incidence was lower in the EFLX vs. CTL group, 23.5 and 31.2%, respectively (P = 0.05), and ketosis was less severe in the former (P = 0.03). The mortality rates in EFLX and CTL cows were 0.7 and 4.6%, respectively (P = 0.005). No differences were observed in conception rates at first or second insemination, but days from first service to conception and calving to conception were 17 (P = 0.07) and 18 days (P = 0.09) less in the EFLX cows, respectively. In conclusion, supplementation of EFLX to dairy cows from the dry period increased milk yield, decreased incidence of ketosis and severe metritis, reduced mortality, and tended to enhance fertility performance. Overall, ALA supplementation improved milk quality and was beneficial to the cow's health and fertility. 

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