Genotype and diet effects on energy balance in the first three lactations of dairy cows

M P Coffey, G Simm, J D Oldham, W G Hill, S Brotherstone

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Dairy cows make strategic use of body energy to support early lactation and replenish this lost energy later in lactation, thereby creating body energy profiles that vary both within lactation and across lactations. The interaction between genotype and diet energy content is interesting from a management viewpoint and from a cow survival viewpoint. In this study, we modeled energy balance over 3 lactations using a multivariate random regression model, for cows from the Langhill Dairy Cattle Research Centre. This herd has been selected for maximum production or to remain at the UK national average for production (control group) and has been fed 2 diets of different energy density (high or low concentrate). Cows in the various groups differed in body condition score and the way they lost and regained body lipid. Cows selected for maximum production on a low-concentrate diet lost the greatest amount of body lipid (0.54 condition score units) after 3 lactations. Cows selected for maximum production lost more than control cows on either diet, indicating that selection mainly for yield has predisposed cows to utilize body energy to support lactation on diets spanning the range used here. Cows selected for maximum production were heavier at first calving than control cows but lost more weight and regained more weight so that at the end of each lactation, cows in the 2 groups did not differ significantly in weight. Cows use body lipid to support lactation over 3 lactations and the profile of that use varies according to genotype and diet.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4318-26
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Dairy Science
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2004
Externally publishedYes


  • Animals
  • Body Constitution
  • Body Weight
  • Cattle
  • Diet
  • Energy Intake
  • Energy Metabolism
  • Female
  • Genotype
  • Lactation
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Parity
  • Regression Analysis


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