Effects of rumen-protected choline supplementation on metabolic and performance responses of transition dairy cows.
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The objective of this experiment was to compare metabolic and milk production parameters in dairy cows supplemented and nonsupplemented with rumen-protected choline (RPC) during the transition period. Twenty-three nonlactating, multiparous, pregnant Holstein cows were ranked by BW and BCS 21 d before expected date of calving and immediately were assigned to receive (n = 12) or not receive (control; n = 11) RPC until 45 d in milk (DIM). Cows supplemented with RPC received (as-fed basis) 50 and 100 g/d of RPC (18.8% choline) before and after calving, respectively. Before calving, cows were maintained in 2 drylot pens according to treatment with ad libitum access to corn silage, and individually they received (as-fed basis) 3 kg/cow daily of a concentrate. Upon calving, cows were moved to 2 adjacent drylot pens according to treatment, milked twice daily, offered (as-fed basis) 35 kg/cow daily of corn silage, and individually received a concentrate formulated to meet their nutritional requirements after milking. The RPC was individually offered to cows as a topdressing into the morning concentrate feeding. Before calving, cow BW and BCS were recorded weekly, and blood samples were collected every 5 d beginning on d -21 relative to expected calving date. Upon calving and until 45 DIM, BW and BCS were recorded weekly, individual milk production was recorded daily, and milk samples were collected once a week and analyzed for fat, protein, and total solids. Blood samples were collected every other day from 0 to 20 DIM and every 5 d from 20 to 45 DIM. Based on actual calving dates, cows receiving RPC or control began receiving treatments 16.8 1.7 and 17.3 2.0 d before calving, respectively. No treatment effects were detected (P 0.18) on postpartum concentrate intake, BW and BCS, or serum concentrations of cortisol, -hydroxybutyrate, NEFA, glucose, and IGF-I. Cows supplemented with RPC had greater (P 0.01) mean serum haptoglobin and insulin concentrations compared with control. Cows supplemented with RPC had greater (P < 0.01) milk protein, total solids (P < 0.01), and milk fat concentrations (P = 0.09) compared with control. No treatment effects were detected (P 0.43) for milk yield parameters, such as fat-corrected or solids-corrected milk yield. In conclusion, supplementing RPC to transition dairy cows increased haptoglobin and insulin concentrations and benefited milk composition.