Lactational challenges in transition dairy cows

Bruckmaier, Rupert; Gross, Josef Johann (2017). Lactational challenges in transition dairy cows. Animal Production Science, 57(7), pp. 1471-1481. CSIRO 10.1071/AN16657

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Lactation evolved to be the core functional system of providing maternal care in mammalian species. The mammary gland provides an ideally composed nutrient source for the newborn. In addition, colostrum provides passive immunisation after birth, and each suckling process supports the establishment and maintenance of a close mother–offspring bonding. The importance of lactation for the survival of the offspring is represented by a high metabolic priority of the mammary gland within the organism of the lactating animal. Therefore, animal breeding for high milk production has been quite successful, and modern breeding methods have allowed an enormous increase in the performance within only few generations of cows. Mainly in early lactation, most of the available nutrients are directed to the mammary gland, both those from feed, and those mobilised from body tissue. Therefore, milk production can be maintained at a high level despite a negative energy balance. However, the high metabolic load and mobilisation of body tissue requires adequate endocrine and metabolic regulation, which can be successful or less successful in individual animals, i.e. the dairy cow population consists of both metabolically robust and metabolically vulnerable dairy cows. While robust animals adapt adequately, vulnerable cows show often high plasma concentrations of non-esterified fatty acids and β-hydroxybutyrate, and are prone to various production-related diseases. In pasture- or forage-based feeding systems, an additional challenge is a limited availability of nutrients for milk production. Forage feeding without complementary concentrate leads to enormous metabolic disorders in high-yielding cows, but is tolerated in dairy cows with a moderate genetic-performance level.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Review Article)


05 Veterinary Medicine > Department of Clinical Research and Veterinary Public Health (DCR-VPH) > Veterinary Physiology
05 Veterinary Medicine > Department of Clinical Research and Veterinary Public Health (DCR-VPH)

UniBE Contributor:

Bruckmaier, Rupert and Gross, Josef Johann


500 Science > 570 Life sciences; biology
500 Science > 590 Animals (Zoology)
600 Technology > 630 Agriculture








Josef Johann Gross

Date Deposited:

22 May 2018 11:26

Last Modified:

22 Oct 2019 18:46

Publisher DOI:





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