The effect of frequency of supplementing rumen-protected unsaturated fatty acids on blood serum fatty acid profiles in beef heifers and lactating cows.
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The objective of this study was to determine if supplementation frequency of rumen-protected fat (RPF) influences circulating serum concentrations of fatty acids (FA), NEFA, and urea nitrogen in beef heifers and lactating cows. In Exp. 1, 12 early gestation beef heifers were supplemented 0.5 kg of corn gluten feed (CGF) daily during a 2-wk adaptation period. During the last 3 d of adaptation, blood samples were collected immediately before supplementation and then 8 and 16 h postsupplementation daily. Each heifer was then randomly assigned to 1 of 3 supplementation frequency treatments of RPF (3, 5, or 7 d/wk) for 3 wk in a 3 3 Latin square design with 3 periods (4 heifers per treatment per period), with each treatment receiving the same amount of RPF and CGF per wk (1.0 and 2.7 kg as fed, respectively). Blood samples were collected during the final 3 d of each supplementation period as described in the adaptation period. In Exp. 2, 18 Angus crossbred cows in early lactation were supplemented with 4.54 kg (as fed) of CGF weekly either at 3, 5, or 7 d/wk during a 2-wk adaptation period. Blood samples were collected during the last 3 d of adaptation as in Exp. 1. For the subsequent 3 wk, RPF (530, 318, and 227 g/d when supplemented) was added to the CGF supplement so that each supplementation frequency received 1.59 kg as fed/wk of RPF. Blood samples were collected during the last 3 d of supplementation as in Exp. 1. Serum FA profiles on a random subsample of 9 heifers in Exp. 1 and all animals in Exp. 2 were determined via gas chromatograph (GC), and values were analyzed using the MIXED procedure of SAS. In Exp. 1, there were no differences ( 0.53) in serum FA profile across supplementation frequencies. There was a decrease in serum 18:2, 18:1 -9 and total FA during the sampling time (time effect, < 0.02). In Exp. 2, there was treatment time effect ( 0.001) for both 18:2 and total FA measured. The 7 d/wk frequency had a greater concentration of C18:2 and total FA at 8 h of the sampling period when compared to the other 2 frequencies. These results demonstrate that supplementation of RPF at 3, 5 or 7 d/wk resulted in no changes in serum FA profiles in growing heifers. In early lactating beef cows, there were minor time point changes in serum FA due to supplementation frequency; however, the vast majority of time points were not different, indicating no substantial changes in serum FA profiles.