Only few benefits from propylene glycol drench in early lactation for cows identified as physiologically imbalanced based on milk spectra analyses

S. Østergaard*, M. A. Krogh, V. H.S. Oliveira, T. Larsen, N. D. Otten, GplusE Consortium

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


The main objective of this study was to test the efficiency of a management system combining metabolic clustering of cows based on Fourier-transform mid-infrared (FT-MIR) spectra of milk and targeted treatment of metabolically imbalanced cows with propylene glycol drench. We hypothesized that cows identified in a metabolically imbalanced status during early lactation were associated with subsequent impaired health, reproduction, and production, and that treatment with propylene glycol treatment would improve health, reproduction, and production relatively more in these cows than in control cows. We completed a prospective, randomized controlled trial with 356 early-lactation cows in 2 private dairy herds in Denmark from December 2017 to April 2018. Milk samples of cows were collected before treatment, from 4 to 9 d in milk, and after treatment, from 22 to 27 d in milk. Milk samples were analyzed using FT-MIR spectroscopy. We also measured 4 milk metabolites (β-hydroxybutyrate, isocitrate, malate, and glutamate) and fat and protein contents. Based on FT-MIR spectra and cluster analyses, cows were clustered into groups of metabolically imbalanced and healthy cows. Within each group, cows were allocated randomly to treatment with propylene glycol (500 mL for 5 d) or no treatment. We analyzed the effect of the treatment on cow-level variables: metabolic cluster, milk metabolites, fat and protein contents, and fat-to-protein ratio at a milk sampling after the treatment. Furthermore, we analyzed daily milk yield, calving to first service interval, and disease occurrence. Results showed only a few effects of propylene glycol treatment and few interactions between treatment and metabolic clusters. We found no significant main effects of propylene glycol treatment in any of these analyses. A negative effect of the imbalanced metabolic cluster was found for the outcome of calving to first service interval for multiparous cows. In conclusion, we found a longer calving to first service interval in metabolically imbalanced cows, but we were not able to demonstrate overall benefits from the applied detection of cows in imbalanced metabolic status in early lactation and follow-up by treatment with propylene glycol.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1831-1842
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Dairy Science
Issue number2
Publication statusPrint publication - Feb 2020
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Copyright © 2020 American Dairy Science Association. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


  • dairy cow
  • milk biomarker
  • physiological and metabolic imbalance
  • propylene glycol
  • Cattle/physiology
  • Isocitrates/analysis
  • Malates/analysis
  • Prospective Studies
  • Lactation
  • Milk/chemistry
  • Propylene Glycol/pharmacology
  • 3-Hydroxybutyric Acid/analysis
  • Animals
  • Spectroscopy, Fourier Transform Infrared/veterinary
  • Denmark
  • Glutamic Acid/analysis
  • Female
  • Reproduction/drug effects
  • Milk Proteins/analysis


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