Lower Pregnancy Losses in Lactating Dairy Cows Fed a Diet Enriched in α-Linolenic Acid

January 1, 2006 Human Health and Nutrition Data 0 Comments

Lower Pregnancy Losses in Lactating Dairy Cows Fed a Diet Enriched in α-Linolenic Acid

Year: 2006
Authors: Ambrose, D.J., Kastelic, J.P., Corbett, R., Pitney, P.A., Petit, H.V., Small, J.A., Zalkovic, P.
Publication Name: J. Dairy Sci.
Publication Details: Volume 89; Pages 3066–3074


The objectives were to determine if a diet enriched in α-linolenic acid (ALA) would influence ovarian function,
early embryo survival, conception rates, and pregnancy losses in lactating dairy cows. Beginning 28 d before breeding, Holstein cows (55 ± 22 d postpartum; mean ± SD) were assigned to diets supplemented with either rolled flaxseed (FLAX; 56.7% ALA, n = 62) or rolled sunflower seed (SUNF; 0.1% ALA, n = 59) to provide approximately 750 g of oil/d. Diets continued for 32 d after timed artificial insemination (TAI, d 0) following a Presynch/Ovsynch protocol. Barley silage- and barley grain-based TMR were formulated to meet or exceed National Research Council requirements. Metabolizable protein and net energy for lactation concentrations were similar in the 2 diets. Based upon a mean dry matter intake of 22 kg/d, cows fed FLAX or SUNF consumed >410 g or <1 g of ALA, respectively. Pregnancy was confirmed by ultrasound 32 d after TAI. Nonpregnant cows were placed on a second Ovsynch regimen and reinseminated 42 d after first TAI, and received oilseeds for 32 d after second TAI. Relative to prediet levels, FLAX increased the ALA content of milk by 187%. Ovarian ultrasonography was performed in 8 cows per diet; the mean diameter of ovulatory follicles was larger in cows fed FLAX compared with SUNF (16.9 ± 0.9 vs. 14.1 ± 0.9 mm), but follicle number, corpus luteum size, and plasma progesterone concentrations remained unaffected. Presumptive conception (progesterone < 1 ng/mL on d 0 and >1 ng/mL on d 21) rates to first TAI were greater in FLAX than in SUNF (72.6 vs. 47.5%). Pregnancy losses were lower in cows fed FLAX (9.8%) compared with those fed SUNF (27.3%). Including flaxseed in the ration of dairy cows increased the size of the ovulatory follicle and reduced pregnancy losses. Author's Abstract.

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