Late gestation conditions leading to postpartal subclinical ketosis in dairy cows affects offspring growth and performance

Document Type


Publication Date



American Dairy Science Association


Journal of Dairy Science




Suppl. 1






calves, ketosis, fetal programing


Ketosis is a common disease associated with NEB in peripartal dairy cows, and the onset of this condition is linked to prepartal preconditions such as decreased intake and excessive fat mobilization. Likely the same prepartal endocrine peripheral changes that predispose cows to subclinical ketosis (SK) postpartum will affect fetal development and colostrum biosynthesis. Thus, the objective of this retrospective study was to evaluate the effects of maternal SK in peripartal dairy cows on offspring growth and development. Twelve Holstein dairy cows (n = 6/group) were monitored during the peripartal period. Cows were housed in bedded pack pens and fed the same close-up diet (0.63 Mcal/kg DM and 12.3% CP). After parturition cows were moved to a freestall barn and fed a lactation diet (0.73 Mcal/ kg DM and 15.6% CP). Precision Xtra was used to measure blood BHB at 1, 3, 5, 7, 9, and 11 d postpartum and cows were classified as subclinically-ketotic (KET; > 1.4 mmol/L) or non-ketotic (NONKET; < 1.4 mmol/L). Dairy calves were enrolled if calving difficult < 3, BW ≥ 32kg, single calf, colostrum quality ≥ 21% Brix refractometer, and 3.8 L of colostrum intake from the same dam. Calves born to dams in KET and NONKET groups were assigned accordingly. Calves were monitored from 1 to 8 wk of age. Calves were fed 2.8 L/d of milk replacer 2x/d from 1 to 6 wk, 1x/d in 7 wk, and weaned at 8 wk. Calves had ad libitum access to starter and water. The BW and withers height (WH) were measured weekly until wk 8. Health checks were performed daily. Data were analyzed using the MIXED procedure of SAS. Birth BW was greater (P = 0.05; 42.9 vs 37.9 kg) in KET calves than NONKET. However, a slower (P = 0.02) growth rate was observed in KET calves than NONKET from 1 to 8 wk (53.1 vs 56.2 kg). The latter was reflected in a lower (P = 0.05) final BW at 8 wk in KET than NONKET (71.3 vs 74.8 kg). Overall, offspring’s WH was not affected (P = 0.016) by maternal SK. Results suggest that prepartal endocrine and metabolic mechanisms predisposing dairy cows to postpartal SK may produce long-lasting effects on the offspring’s growth and development.