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Metabolism, Ketosis Treatment and Milk Production after Using Glycerol in Dairy Cows: A Review

Department of Environment, Animal Hygiene and Welfare, Wrocław University of Environmental and Life Sciences, Chełmońskiego 38C, 50-375 Wrocław, Poland
Department of Chemistry, Wroclaw University of Environmental and Life Science, Norwida 25, 50-375 Wrocław, Poland
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Animals 2020, 10(8), 1379;
Received: 3 June 2020 / Revised: 3 August 2020 / Accepted: 5 August 2020 / Published: 8 August 2020
(This article belongs to the Special Issue New Feeds in Livestock Diets−Crude Glycerin)
Glycerol, as well as being an attractive feed ingredient for cattle, is also a by-product of a wide range of industrial applications. Glycerol has potential value in farming since it improves metabolism, feed efficiency, and can alleviate the symptoms of ketosis. Data indicate that glycerol can be a suitable partial grain replacement in the diet of cows during the transition period and at the beginning of lactation. The impact on milk yield is not significant, but glycerol mostly decreases milk fat content. The inclusion of dietary glycerol in the ration of dairy cows has an affect on ruminal fermentation patterns. Glycerol is rapidly fermented in the rumen into propionate, and it is metabolized to glucose in the liver through the process of glycogenolysis. Additionally, glycerol administration to ruminants can reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The purpose of this review is to highlight the potential benefits and drawbacks related to the use of glycerol in cattle.
The aim of this paper is to review and systematize the current state of knowledge on glycol metabolism in cattle. Glycerol, derived from biodiesel production, must be purified in order to be a useful product for feeding livestock. The use of glycerol in the feeding of ruminants can be justified for several reasons: (i) it is a source of energy in the ration, (ii) it is a glucogenic precursor, and (iii) it may have an effect on milk composition. The high energy value of glycerol provides the opportunity to use this raw material as a partial grain substitute in cattle feed rations. Dietary supplementation of glycerol is associated with increased propionate, butyrate, valerate, and isovalerate concentrations in the rumen. Glycerol can be used at up to 10%–15% of the dietary dry matter (DM) and is well-established as a treatment for ketosis in cows. Glycerol increases plasma glucose and may reduce non-esterified fatty acids and β-hydroxybutyrate levels. The use of glycerol does not have a clear effect on DM intake, milk yield, or milk composition. However, some authors have reported an increase in milk yield after glycerol supplementation associated with decreased milk fat concentration. It is also possible that the concentration in the milk of odd-chain fatty acids and cis-9, trans-11 conjugated linoleic acid may increase after glycerol application. View Full-Text
Keywords: dairy cows; glycerol; metabolism; ketosis; rumen microorganism dairy cows; glycerol; metabolism; ketosis; rumen microorganism
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Kupczyński, R.; Szumny, A.; Wujcikowska, K.; Pachura, N. Metabolism, Ketosis Treatment and Milk Production after Using Glycerol in Dairy Cows: A Review. Animals 2020, 10, 1379.

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