The objective of the present study was to determine the effects of rumen-protected choline (RPC) supplementation on body condition, milk production and milk choline content during the periparturient period. Thirty-two Holstein cows were allocated into two groups (RPC group - with RPC supplementation, and control group - without RPC supplementation) 28 days before the expected calving. Cows were fed the experimental diet from 21 days before expected calving until 60 days of lactation. The daily diet of the RPC group contained 100 g of RPC from 21 days before calving until calving and 200 g RPC after calving for 60 days of lactation, which provided 25 g and 50 g per day choline, respectively. Body condition was scored on days -21, 7, 35 and 60 relative to calving. Milk production was measured at every milking; milk fat, protein and choline content were determined on days 7, 35 and 60 of lactation. Body condition was not affected by RPC supplementation. Milk yield was 4.4 kg higher for the group of cows receiving supplementary choline during the 60 days experimental period and 4% fat-corrected milk production was also increased by 2.5 kg/day. Milk fat content was not altered by treatment, but fat yield was increased by 0.10 kg/day as a consequence of higher milk yield in the RPC-treated group. Milk protein content tended to increase by RPC supplementation and a 0.18 kg/day significant improvement of protein yield was detected. Milk choline content increased in both groups after calving as the lactating period advanced. However, milk choline content and choline yield were significantly higher in the RPC group than in the control group. The improved milk choline and choline yield provide evidence that some of the applied RPC escaped ruminal degradation, was absorbed from the small intestine and improved the choline supply of the cows and contributed to the changes of production variables.
Bibliographical note© The Animal Consortium 2008
- Milk composition
- Milk yield