Effects of Energy Supply from Roughage and Concentrates and the Occurrence of Subclinical Ketosis on Blood Chemistry and Liver Health in Lactating Dairy Cows during Early Lactation
The objectives of this study were to examine the effects of varying dietary energy supply as well as the impacts of subclinical ketosis (SCK) on blood chemistry and liver health. A total 63 German-Holstein cows were housed from three weeks antepartum until sixteen weeks postpartum. After calving, cows were assigned to one of four treatment groups receiving either moderate or high energy concentrations in roughage and secondly moderate or high amounts of concentrates. Retrospectively, cows were additionally grouped according to their β-hydroxybutyrate concentration (SK: cows with SCK vs. CON: cows without SCK). The different energy supply of treatment groups had little effects on blood and liver variables; greater differences occurred between SK and CON cows. Liver fat content of SK cows was 34% higher compared to CON cows. Also, the activity of aspartate aminotransferase and γ-glutamyl transferase, bilirubin concentration, and percentage of granulocytes were increased in SK cows. The results indicate that cows were able to adjust their metabolism to different dietary energy supplies without having a clearly increased risks for metabolic disorders. However, individual animals of all groups developed a metabolic derailment during the postpartum period resulting in SCK, which is closely connected with impaired liver function, compromised immune-responsiveness, and elevated oxidative stress.