Edinburgh Research Explorer

Influence of negative energy balance on cyclicity and fertility in the high producing dairy cow

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  • D C Wathes
  • M Fenwick
  • Z Cheng
  • N Bourne
  • S Llewellyn
  • D G Morris
  • D Kenny
  • J Murphy
  • R Fitzpatrick

Related Edinburgh Organisations

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)S232-41
Volume68 Suppl 1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sep 2007


The peripartum period is of critical importance to subsequent health and fertility. Most cows enter a state of negative energy balance (NEB) associated with many metabolic changes which have carry over effects on the resumption and normality of estrous cyclicity and the success of subsequent inseminations. A dataset on 500 lactations explored the relationships between metabolic traits measured before and after calving with fertility. Stepwise multiple regression analysis showed that longer calving to conception intervals were associated with altered profiles of IGF-I, urea and body condition score. These relationships between metabolic profiles and fertility differed between first lactation cows (which are still growing but produce less milk) and mature animals. Early postpartum the liver undergoes extensive biochemical and morphological modifications to adapt to NEB, the uterus is extensively remodeled and must clear bacterial infections, and the ovary must resume ovulatory cycles. RNA isolated from liver and uterine tissues harvested 2 weeks postpartum from cows in mild (MNEB) and severe (SNEB) energy balance was used to screen the Affymetrix 23K bovine microarray. In liver, SNEB resulted in differential expression of key genes involved in lipid catabolism, gluconeogenesis, and the synthesis and stability of IGF-I. This was accompanied by reduced systemic concentrations of IGF-I which is likely to impact on ovarian function and early embryo development. Within endometrium, cows in SNEB showed histological evidence for higher levels of inflammation and the microarray analysis identified groups of differentially expressed genes involved in tissue remodeling and immune response. This may delay uterine repair after calving, likely contributing to the observed reduction in fertility.

    Research areas

  • Age Factors, Animals, Cattle, Dairying, Efficiency, Endocrine System, Energy Metabolism, Estrous Cycle, Female, Fertility, Homeostasis, Lactation, Liver, Models, Biological, Parturition, Periodicity

ID: 13096650