Liver function affects milk production

Proper liver function has a positive effect on cow’s early milk production
calendar icon 23 May 2024
clock icon 2 minute read

The liver functionality index (LFI) is a marker that measures how well the cow's liver is working, and it could be a determinative tool during the transition period.

A study aimed to assess the LFI and its relationship with milk production and the onset of ovarian activity was conducted in Panama, by A. Fuentes, University of Panama and fellow students at the University of La Salle and Michigan State University.

Thirty dairy cows were randomly distributed into two experimental groups: CON (supplemented with concentrate) and MIX (supplemented with corn silage and soybean plant). Blood samples were taken on day 3 and 28 postpartum and analyzed for bilirubin (mg/dl), cholesterol (mg/dl), and albumin (g/l). Data were included in the LFI equation to determine the liver status (positive or negative).

The variables studied were weight loss at 28 days, milk production at 7 (initial), 28, and 100 days, ovary and follicle size, and days to first heat.

Neither the CON nor MIX diet affected any of the variables studied (P > 0.05). However, cows with positive LFI had higher initial milk production, (P = 0.07) and 28 days (P > 0.05) but not at 100 days (P > 0.05).

Initial milk production was statistically different (P < 0.001) and positively correlated with milk production at 28 (r = 0.80) and 100 days (r = 0.41). Weight loss was unrelated to LFI (P > 0.05).

In contrast, positive LFI increased ovary (P < 0.05) and follicle (P < 0.05) size for both transverse (T) and longitudinal (L) compared with negative status. Cows with positive LFI had more prominent preovulatory follicles (P < 0.001) than negative, showing differences of 9.00 and 4.64 mm for T and L, respectively. Additionally, LFI was positively correlated with preovulatory follicle size T (r = 0.28) and L (r = 0.52).

Within the first 90 days in milk, 89% of cows were in heat, averaging 49 days to first heat post-calving. However, LFI was not statistically different (P < 0.05) with days to the first heat.

The study, presented at the 2024 Tri-State Dairy Conference, concluded that LFI status was correlated with initial and 28-day milk production but not at 100 days. However, the most significant implications of LFI were related to the ovary, showing remarkable differences in ovary and follicle size.

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