Dairy cows experience a negative energy balance due to increasing energy demands and insufficient voluntary feed intake in the transition from late pregnancy to early lactation. For supplying sufficient energy toward the conceptus and the mammary gland, insulin sensitivity in peripheral tissues is reduced leading to adipose tissue mobilization. Adiponectin, an insulin-sensitizing adipokine, is presumably related to energy metabolism and could play an important role in these metabolic adaptations.
We hypothesize (1) that primiparous cows would differ from pluriparous cows in their circulating adiponectin concentrations during the transition from late pregnancy to early lactation and (2) that feeding different energy levels would affect the adiponectin concentrations during early lactation in dairy cows.
For the first hypothesis, we examined 201 primiparous and 456 pluriparous Holstein dairy cows on three experimental farms. Ante partum, primiparous cows had lower adiponectin and greater NEFA concentrations than pluriparous cows, but vice versa post partum. Hence, adiponectin might be involved in the energy partitioning in primiparous cows (conceptus and lactation vs other still growing body tissues) with changing priorities from pregnancy to lactation.
For the second hypothesis, 110 primiparous and 558 pluriparous Holstein and Simmental dairy cows in six experimental farms received either roughage with 6.1 or 6.5 MJ NEl/kg dry matter (adjusted with different amounts of wheat straw) ad libitum, combined with either 150 or 250 g concentrates/kg energy corrected milk.
Greater amounts of concentrate lead to greater milk yield, but did not affect the blood variables. The higher energy level in the roughage led to greater glucose and IGF-1 but lower adiponectin in pluriparous cows. Further studies are needed to elucidate the mechanisms behind the roughage effect and its metabolic consequences.