Comparison of peripartum metabolic status and postpartum health of Holstein and Montbéliarde-sired crossbred dairy cows

L. G.D. Mendonça, C. C. Abade, E. M. da Silva, N. B. Litherland, L. B. Hansen, W. P. Hansen, R. C. Chebel

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11 Scopus citations


Objectives of the current experiment were to evaluate plasma concentrations of metabolites and haptoglobin peripartum, uterine health and involution, and follicle growth and resumption of cyclicity of Holstein (HO) and Montbéliarde-sired crossbred cows. Cows (52 HO and 52 crossbred) were enrolled in the study 45 d before expected calving date. Cows had body weight and body condition score recorded on d -45, -14, 0, 1, 28, and 56 relative to calving. Dry matter intake was calculated for a subgroup of cows (25 HO and 38 crossbred) from 6 wk before to 6 wk after calving. Blood was sampled weekly from d -14 to 56 relative to calving for determination of glucose, nonesterified fatty acid, and β-hydroxybutyrate concentrations; from d -7 to 21 relative to calving for determination of haptoglobin concentration; and from d 14 to 56 postpartum for determination of progesterone concentration. Cows were examined at calving and on d 4, 7, 10, and 14 postpartum for diagnosis of postparturient diseases, on d 24 postpartum for diagnosis of purulent vaginal discharge, and on d 42 postpartum for diagnosis of subclinical endometritis. Uteri and ovaries were examined by ultrasonography every 3 d from d 14 to 41 postpartum. Milk yield and composition were measured monthly and yield of milk, fat, protein, and energy-corrected milk were recorded for the first 90 d postpartum. Body weight was not different between Holstein and crossbred cows, but HO cows had reduced body condition score compared with crossbred cows. Even though DMI from 6 wk before to 6 wk after calving tended to be greater for HO cows (16.8 ± 0.7 vs. 15.3 ± 0.5. kg/d), HO cows tended to have more pronounced decline in dry matter intake, expressed in percentage of body weight from d -15 to 0 relative to calving. Energy-corrected milk and nonesterified fatty acid and β-hydroxybutyrate concentrations were not different between breeds. No differences were observed in incidence of retained fetal membranes, metritis, and subclinical endometritis, but HO cows tended to be more likely to have pyrexia from d 0 to 15 postpartum (50.0 vs. 31.4%) and to have greater incidence of purulent vaginal discharge (44.2 vs. 26.5%) than crossbred cows. Holstein cows were more likely to have at least 1 uterine disorder postpartum than crossbred cows (63.5 vs. 36.7%). No differences between breeds were observed in uterine involution. Holstein cows had larger subordinate follicles (10.1 ± 0.4 vs. 8.9 ± 0.5) and a greater number of class III follicles (1.6 ± 0.1 vs. 1.2 ± 0.1) than crossbred cows. Furthermore, the first corpus luteum postpartum of HO cows was diagnosed at a slower rate compared with crossbred cows. Crossbred cows had improved uterine health compared with HO cows and this may have been a consequence of heterosis and (or) breed complementarity and less pronounced decrease in DMI during the last days of gestation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)805-818
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Dairy Science
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2014


  • Crossbreeding
  • Dairy cow
  • Metabolic status
  • Postpartum health

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