Nutrition, metabolism, and fertility in dairy cows: 3. Amino acids and ovarian function

P. C. Garnsworthy, J. G. Gong, D. G. Armstrong, J. R. Newbold, M. Marsden, S. E. Richards, G. E. Mann, K. D. Sinclair, R. Webb

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25 Citations (Scopus)


Plasma insulin concentrations influence resumption of ovarian activity in postpartum dairy cows, and plasma insulin can be manipulated by changing dietary starch and fat supply. The objective of this experiment was to investigate the role of dietary amino acids in altering peripheral metabolic hormones and ovarian function. Thirty-two cows were fed a standard diet from calving until 40 d in milk (DIM), and then 8 cows were transferred to each of 4 dietary treatments until 70 DIM. The 4 diets were designed to supply either low (diets 1 and 2) or high (diets 3 and 4) levels of metabolizable protein (MP), containing either low (diet 1 and 3) or high (diets 2 and 4) proportions of Leu. Leucine was manipulated with heat-treated lupins and corn gluten meal. Estrus was synchronized at 60 DIM. Between 60 and 70 DIM, energy intake and energy balance were similar among diet groups, although cows receiving high MP containing high Leu had a greater milk yield than other groups (means: 37.8, 37.1, 37.4, 39.4 ± standard error 0.85 kg/d for diets 1 to 4, respectively). Interactions between MP and Leu were found for insulin, glucagon, and the ratio between them. Insulin was not affected by Leu in diets with low MP but was decreased by greater Leu in diets with high MP (means: 0.37, 0.32, 0.46, 0.39 ± SE 0.031 ng/mL for diets 1 to 4, respectively). Glucagon was not affected by MP in diets with low Leu but was increased by greater MP in diets with high Leu (means: 92, 81, 88, 95 ± SE 6.0 pg/mL for diets 1 to 4, respectively). For the low-MP treatments, the insulin-to-glucagon ratio was greater with high Leu; for the high-MP treatments, the insulin-to-glucagon ratio was greater with low Leu (means: 4.28, 5.42, 5.16, 4.22 ± SE 0.456 for diets 1 to 4, respectively). There was no effect of MP or Leu on ovarian follicle numbers or reproductive hormones. Based on hormonal and ovarian responses, we conclude that altering metabolic hormones through manipulation of amino acid supply and balance is unlikely to have a significant effect on ovarian function in dairy cows.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4190-4197
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Dairy Science
Issue number11
Publication statusPrint publication - Nov 2008
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Copyright © 2008 American Dairy Science Association. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


  • Amino acid
  • Dairy cow
  • Insulin-to-glucagon ratio
  • Ovarian function


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