Modulation of post-partum reproductive performance in dairy cows through supplementation of long- or short-chain fatty acids during transition period

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Thirty-six cross-bred cows were used to study the effect of long-chain (flaxseed) or short-chain (butyric acid) fatty acid supplementation on metabolic status, ovarian function and reproduction performance during transition period. Control cows received a routine feed of transition diet, while the cows in two treatment groups were supplemented with either 750-g crushed flaxseed or 250 g butyric acid per cow per day. Ovarian activity was monitored by transrectal ultrasonography on 10th, 20th and 30th days post-partum. Blood samples were collected by jugular venipuncture into heparinized polystyrene tubes; plasma was prepared and stored under −20 °C until analysis. Results indicated that cows in flaxseed group were in positive energy balance as indicated by lower NEFA and Beta hydroxy Butyrate and higher glucose concentrations. Uterine involution was completed well within 30 days post-partum in all the cows in flaxseed fed group compared to 76.9% in butyric acid supplemented and 61.5% in control groups. The size of dominant follicle and corpus luteum was significantly higher (p < 0.05) for flaxseed group compared to control group, which in turn resulted in higher concentrations of plasma progesterone. Cows fed on diets supplemented with flaxseed exhibited post-partum heat earlier and bred sooner (p < 0.05) than control cows. It has been noticed that supplementation of flaxseed and butyric acid enhanced involution of uterus, early resumption of cyclicity and thereby early breeding. However, in view of the encouraging results obtained for flaxseed supplemented group, its organic nature and easier availability at farmer's gate, we concluded that flaxseed can be safely included in transition diet to modulate reproductive performance of dairy cattle.

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