Variability of uterine blood flow in lactating cows during the second half of gestation
The main goal of the present study was to measure uterine blood flow volume (BFV) in the second half of gestation in lactating German Holstein cows. Furthermore, it was investigated, if there are individual variations in uterine blood flow and correlations between uterine blood flow and maternal weight and the birth weight of the calf. Forty-four cows were examined via color Doppler sonography in gestation weeks (GW) 21, 25, 29, 33, 37 and 39. The cows were allocated in groups based on the following variables: body weight (light = 575 kg, heavy > 575 kg) and birth weight of the calf (light = 42 kg, heavy > 42 kg). The BFV was measured via transrectal Doppler sonography of both uterine arteries. There was a linear increase in uterine BFV throughout the study period from 3053 ± 1143 ml/min to 16912 ± 5793 ml/min. Variation coefficients for inter-individual variations ranged from 34 to 37%. There was a moderate correlation between uterine BFV and birth weight of the calf in weeks 21 to 37 (0.30 = r < 0.49; P < 0.05) and a good correlation in week 39 (r = 0.60; P < 0.0001). Uterine BFV in week 21 was significantly (P < 0.01) higher in heavy cows (3394 ± 1119 ml/min) than in light cows (2658 ± 1064 ml/min). Compared with light cows, the increase in uterine BFV was 32% higher in heavy cows during the study period. In week 21, there was no difference (P > 0.05) in uterine BFV between cows carrying a heavy calf (3351 ± 1130 ml/min) and those carrying a light calf (2796 ± 1115 ml/min). Thereafter, the increase of BFV was 43% higher in cows with a heavy calf than in those carrying a light calf. Cows with different body weights, but same birth weight of calf showed no differences (P > 0.05) in the increase of BFV, while in cows with the same body weight the rise in BFV was higher (P < 0.05) in those cows producing a heavy calf compared to cows carrying calves with light birth weights. In conclusion, there was a linear increase in uterine BFV in lactating Holstein cows during the second half of pregnancy with marked individual variations. Differences in the rise of BFV were more caused by the fetus than by body weight of cows.