Special Issue "Transition Cow Health and Management—Current Challenges and Future Solutions"

A special issue of Dairy (ISSN 2624-862X).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 26 February 2022.

Special Issue Editors

Prof. Dr. Burim Ametaj
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Department of Agricultural, Food and Nutritional Science, University of Alberta, Edmonton, AB, Canada
Interests: etiopathology of periparturient diseases of dairy cows; new technologies for preventing the incidence of transition cow diseases (including development of mucosal vaccines, probiotics, and grain-processing technologies, as well as identification and development of monitoring biomarkers of disease); milk composition during disease state
Prof. Dr. Sven Dänicke
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Institute of Animal Nutrition, Friedrich-Loeffler-Institute (FLI), Federal Research Institute for Animal Health, Brunswick, Germany
Interests: dairy cow nutrition and metabolism; mycotoxins
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Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Dairy cows are among the most important livestock animals that are capable of converting grass into food for humans in the form of milk or meat. Milk and dairy products play important roles in daily human nutrition, especially for growing children. The productive life of a cow includes a pregnancy of 9 months and lactation of 305 days. However, there is a period of almost two months when dairy cows are not milked, which is known as the dry-off period. During the dry-off period cows are fed a minimal diet for maintenance and to support the growing calf. The diet is composed of dry hay or alfalfa and a small amount of grain or silage. However, immediately after calving the ration offered changes completely to a high grain and silage diet to support milk synthesis in the mammary gland. The period from starting dry-off to the first two months after calving is known as the transition period. This period is associated with a high incidence of several periparturient diseases including metritis, mastitis, lameness, ketosis, milk fever, and retained placenta. Those diseases negatively affect the overall health and productivity of dairy cows. Although much progress has been made with respect to the understanding of the etiopathology and treatment of periparturient diseases, almost one in two cows continue to be affected by one or multiple diseases concurrently, especially postpartum. Consequently, most dairy cows (around 40% or more) end up being culled from the herd. This is devastating to dairy producers but also to the human population worldwide. An interesting observation is that the number of lactating dairy cows affected by one single disease is low. Periparturient diseases most commonly occur concurrently or consequently. Does this mean that periparturient diseases are symptoms of a syndrome, or is this just happening coincidentally? Could it be that one disease is increasing the susceptibility of the cows to other diseases? These questions make the periparturient period a very interesting area of research and an open field for intensive research. Given the importance of the transition period to the health of dairy cows, Dairy recently organized an ‘International Symposium on Health of Transition Cows’. All the speeches presented in that symposium will be published in this Special Issue. The articles that will be published address topics including the role of mycotoxins on the health of transition dairy cows, the mammary gland microbiome, lessons learned from the application of metabolomics in ketosis, mastitis, lameness, as well as new insights into cow adaptation to new lactation. The discussion will also include the future of the dairy sector in the European Union Atlantic area.

However, we would like to invite other researchers that have been working in this area of research to submit data from their research works or review articles to be published as part of this Special Issue.

Prof. Dr. Burim Ametaj
Prof. Dr. Sven Dänicke
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Dairy is an international peer-reviewed open access quarterly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1000 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • dairy cows
  • transition period
  • periparturient diseases
  • mastitis
  • lameness
  • ketosis
  • immunity
  • mycotoxins
  • microbiota
  • metabolomics

Published Papers (2 papers)

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Research

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Article
Blood Metabolomic Phenotyping of Dry Cows Could Predict the High Milk Somatic Cells in Early Lactation—Preliminary Results
Dairy 2022, 3(1), 59-77; https://doi.org/10.3390/dairy3010005 - 19 Jan 2022
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Abstract
Subclinical mastitis (SCM) is a very common disease of dairy cows. Currently, somatic cell count (SCC) is used for SCM diagnoses. There are no prognostic tests to detect which cows may develop SCM during the dry-off period. Therefore, the objectives of this study [...] Read more.
Subclinical mastitis (SCM) is a very common disease of dairy cows. Currently, somatic cell count (SCC) is used for SCM diagnoses. There are no prognostic tests to detect which cows may develop SCM during the dry-off period. Therefore, the objectives of this study were to identify metabolic alterations in the serum of pre-SCM cows during the dry-off period, at −8 and −4 weeks before calving, through a targeted mass spectrometry (MS) assay. Fifteen cows, free of any disease, and 10 cows affected only by SCM postpartum served as controls (CON) and the SCM group, respectively. Results showed 59 and 47 metabolites that differentiated (p ≤ 0.05) CON and pre-SCM cows at –8 and −4 weeks prior to the expected date of parturition, respectively. Regression analysis indicated that a panel of four serum metabolites (AUC = 0.92, p < 0.001) at −8 weeks and another four metabolites (AUC = 0.92, p < 0.01) at −4 weeks prior to parturition might serve as predictive biomarkers for SCM. Early identification of susceptible cows can enable development of better preventive measurements ahead of disease occurrence. Full article
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Review

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Review
The Transition Period Updated: A Review of the New Insights into the Adaptation of Dairy Cows to the New Lactation
Dairy 2021, 2(4), 617-636; https://doi.org/10.3390/dairy2040048 - 03 Nov 2021
Viewed by 694
Abstract
Recent research on the transition period (TP) of dairy cows has highlighted the pivotal role of immune function in affecting the severity of metabolic challenges the animals face when approaching calving. This suggests that the immune system may play a role in the [...] Read more.
Recent research on the transition period (TP) of dairy cows has highlighted the pivotal role of immune function in affecting the severity of metabolic challenges the animals face when approaching calving. This suggests that the immune system may play a role in the etiology of metabolic diseases occurring in early lactation. Several studies have indicated that the roots of immune dysfunctions could sink way before the “classical” TP (e.g., 3 weeks before and 3 weeks after calving), extending the time frame deemed as “risky” for the development of early lactation disorders at the period around the dry-off. Several distressing events occurring during the TP (i.e., dietary changes, heat stress) can boost the severity of pre-existing immune dysfunctions and metabolic changes that physiologically affect this phase of the lactation cycle, further increasing the likelihood of developing diseases. Based on this background, several operational and nutritional strategies could be adopted to minimize the detrimental effects of immune dysfunctions on the adaptation of dairy cows to the new lactation. A suitable environment (i.e., optimal welfare) and a balanced diet (which guarantees optimal nutrient partitioning to improve immune functions in cow and calf) are key aspects to consider when aiming to minimize TP challenges at the herd level. Furthermore, several prognostic behavioral and physiological indicators could help in identifying subjects that are more likely to undergo a “bad transition”, allowing prompt intervention through specific modulatory treatments. Recent genomic advances in understanding the linkage between metabolic disorders and the genotype of dairy cows suggest that genetic breeding programs aimed at improving dairy cows’ adaptation to the new lactation challenges (i.e., through increasing immune system efficiency or resilience against metabolic disorders) could be expected in the future. Despite these encouraging steps forward in understanding the physiological mechanisms driving metabolic responses of dairy cows during their transition to calving, it is evident that these processes still require further investigation, and that the TP—likely extended from dry-off—continues to be “the final frontier” for research in dairy sciences. Full article
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