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

A special issue of Dairy (ISSN 2624-862X). This special issue belongs to the section "Dairy Animal Health".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 15 May 2023 | Viewed by 12904

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 submissions that pass pre-check are 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 (8 papers)

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Research

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Article
Assessment of Noninferiority of Delayed Oral Calcium Supplementation on Blood Calcium and Magnesium Concentrations and Rumination Behavior in Dairy Cows
Dairy 2022, 3(4), 872-880; https://doi.org/10.3390/dairy3040060 - 13 Dec 2022
Viewed by 802
Abstract
We investigated whether delaying oral calcium (Ca) bolus administration to the second day postpartum (DEL) was noninferior to bolus administration within 24 h of calving (CON) in its effects on plasma Ca concentrations during the first five days in milk (DIM). We also [...] Read more.
We investigated whether delaying oral calcium (Ca) bolus administration to the second day postpartum (DEL) was noninferior to bolus administration within 24 h of calving (CON) in its effects on plasma Ca concentrations during the first five days in milk (DIM). We also investigated the effects of DEL vs. CON strategies on magnesium (Mg) concentrations and daily rumination time (RT). Twenty-three multiparous (parity ≥ 3) dairy cows were randomly assigned to the CON (n = 11) or DEL (n = 12) treatment. Blood Ca and Mg were measured at 1–5 DIM and RT was monitored from −7 d to 7 d relative to calving. The noninferiority margin was a difference in Ca concentration of 0.15 mmol/L. Blood Ca and Mg concentrations and RT were analyzed by multivariable linear mixed models accounting for repeated measures. Blood Ca concentrations were 0.07 mmol/L (95% confidence interval: −0.30–0.17) less in DEL cows than CON cows, thus non-inferiority results were inconclusive. The Ca concentration increased across the first 5 DIM but did not differ between treatments while Mg concentrations decreased in both treatments (p < 0.001). There was no treatment difference in RT (CON: 436 ± 21, DEL: 485 ± 19 min/d). While noninferiority results were inconclusive, similar blood Ca dynamics between CON and DEL treatment strategies indicates that delayed Ca administration is a potential management option for commercial dairy farms; however, additional studies using large sample sizes are warranted to confirm these findings. Full article
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Article
Herd Routines and Veterinary Advice Related to Drying-Off and the Dry Period of Dairy Cows
Dairy 2022, 3(2), 377-399; https://doi.org/10.3390/dairy3020029 - 01 Jun 2022
Viewed by 987
Abstract
Bovine mastitis at calving or early lactation is often associated with intra-mammary bacterial infections (IMI) at drying-off (DO) or during the dry period (DP). The IMI risk is associated with management routines at the herd, but knowledge on how farmers and veterinarians comply [...] Read more.
Bovine mastitis at calving or early lactation is often associated with intra-mammary bacterial infections (IMI) at drying-off (DO) or during the dry period (DP). The IMI risk is associated with management routines at the herd, but knowledge on how farmers and veterinarians comply with national recommendations is scarce, as is their attitudes to the importance of such routines. Therefore, the main aims of this study were to collect information on farmer routines and attitudes, and on veterinary advice and attitudes to DO and DP. Associations between routines and advice, and demographic herd and veterinary variables were also studied. Web-based questionnaires were sent to 2472 dairy farmers and 517 veterinarians. The answers were summarized descriptively, and associations with demographics were evaluated using univariable regression models. The response rate was 14% for farmers and 25% for veterinarians. Routines and advice were in line with recommendations at the time of the study in many, but not all, areas of questioning. Significant associations between herd routines or veterinary advice and demographic variables were also found. Milking system and post-graduate training were the variables associated with the largest number of farmer and veterinary answers, respectively. In conclusion, the results indicate a need for more education on good routines during DO and DP. It was also clear that the national recommendations valid at the time of the study were in need of revision. Full article
Article
Influence of Post-Milking Treatment on Microbial Diversity on the Cow Teat Skin and in Milk
Dairy 2022, 3(2), 262-276; https://doi.org/10.3390/dairy3020021 - 15 Apr 2022
Viewed by 1335
Abstract
In dairy cattle, teat disinfection at the end of milking is commonly applied to limit colonization of the milk by pathogenic microorganisms via the teat canal. The post-milking products used can irritate the teat skin and unbalance its microbial population. Our study aimed [...] Read more.
In dairy cattle, teat disinfection at the end of milking is commonly applied to limit colonization of the milk by pathogenic microorganisms via the teat canal. The post-milking products used can irritate the teat skin and unbalance its microbial population. Our study aimed to assess the impact of different milking products on the balance of the microbial communities on the teat skin of cows and in their milk. For 12 weeks at the end of each milking operation, three groups of seven Holstein dairy cows on pasture received either a chlorhexidine gluconate-based product (G) or a hydrocolloidal water-in-oil emulsion (A), or no post-milking product (C). The composition of the bacterial and fungal communities on the teat skin and in the milk were characterized using a culture-dependent method and by high-throughput sequencing of marker genes to obtain amplicon sequence variants (ASVs). The individual microbiota on the cows’ teat skin was compared for the first time to that of a cow pool. In contrast to the milk, the post-milking treatment influenced the microbiota of the teat skin, which revealed a high microbial diversity. The water-in-oil emulsion appeared to slightly favour lactic acid bacteria and yeasts and to limit the development of undesirable bacteria such as Pseudomonas and Staphylococcus. Full article
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Article
Assessment of Metabolic Adaptations in Periparturient Dairy Cows Provided 3-Nitrooxypropanol and Varying Concentrate Proportions by Using the GreenFeed System for Indirect Calorimetry, Biochemical Blood Parameters and Ultrasonography of Adipose Tissues
Dairy 2022, 3(1), 100-122; https://doi.org/10.3390/dairy3010009 - 03 Feb 2022
Viewed by 1885
Abstract
Methanogenesis in ruminants contributes to both greenhouse gas emissions and feed energy losses whereby the latter becomes specifically important in energy-deficient periparturient cows. It was hypothesized that increased concentrate feed proportions (CFP) and feeding with the methane inhibitor 3-nitrooxypropanol (3-NOP), as well as [...] Read more.
Methanogenesis in ruminants contributes to both greenhouse gas emissions and feed energy losses whereby the latter becomes specifically important in energy-deficient periparturient cows. It was hypothesized that increased concentrate feed proportions (CFP) and feeding with the methane inhibitor 3-nitrooxypropanol (3-NOP), as well as their potential synergism, improve the energy status of peripartal cows. Periparturient dairy cows were fed low or high dietary CFP either tested without or combined with 3-NOP. The GreenFeed system was used to calculate the metabolic respiration quotient (RQmetabolic) and tissue energy retention (ERtissue) by methods of indirect calorimetry. The calorimetrically estimated ERtissue coincided with a conventionally calculated energy balance except for the antepartal period. Neither CFP nor 3-NOP affected the ultrasonographically assessed lipomobilization in adipose depots. In the group fed 3-NOP and a high concentrate feed proportion, the RQmetabolic significantly rose over the course of the experiment and the ERtissue was also increased. Serum non-esterified fatty acid concentrations were lower in the 3-NOP groups albeit ß-hydroxybutyrate (BHB) remained unaffected. Higher CFP reduced BHB and increased blood glucose levels. In conclusion, 3-NOP and high CFP improved the energy budget of the cows in an interactive manner, which was, however, not apparent in all of the examined parameters. The application of the GreenFeed system for indirect calorimetry is a promising approach, which needs further validation in the future. Full article
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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
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 2112
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
Mastitis: Impact of Dry Period, Pathogens, and Immune Responses on Etiopathogenesis of Disease and its Association with Periparturient Diseases
Dairy 2022, 3(4), 881-906; https://doi.org/10.3390/dairy3040061 - 19 Dec 2022
Viewed by 635
Abstract
Mastitis is an inflammation of the mammary gland initiated by pathogenic bacteria. In fact, mastitis is the second most important reason for the culling of cows from dairy herds, after infertility. In this review we focus on various forms of mastitis, including subclinical [...] Read more.
Mastitis is an inflammation of the mammary gland initiated by pathogenic bacteria. In fact, mastitis is the second most important reason for the culling of cows from dairy herds, after infertility. In this review we focus on various forms of mastitis, including subclinical and clinical mastitis. We also stress the importance of the dry-off period as an important time when pathogenic bacteria might start their insult to the mammary gland. An important part of the review is the negative effects of mastitis on milk production and composition, as well as economic consequences for dairy farms. The two most important groups of bacteria that are involved in infection of the udder, Gram-negative and Gram-positive bacteria, are also discussed. Although all cows have both innate and adaptive immunity against most pathogens, some are more susceptible to the disease than others. That is why we summarize the most important components of innate and adaptive immunity so that the reader understands the specific immune responses of the udder to pathogenic bacteria. One of the most important sections of this review is interrelationship of mastitis with other diseases, especially retained placenta, metritis and endometritis, ketosis, and laminitis. Is mastitis the cause or the consequence of this disease? Finally, the review concludes with treatment and preventive approaches to mastitis. Full article
Review
Mastitis: What It Is, Current Diagnostics, and the Potential of Metabolomics to Identify New Predictive Biomarkers
Dairy 2022, 3(4), 722-746; https://doi.org/10.3390/dairy3040050 - 17 Oct 2022
Viewed by 1094
Abstract
Periparturient diseases continue to be the greatest challenge to both farmers and dairy cows. They are associated with a decrease in productivity, lower profitability, and a negative impact on cows’ health as well as public health. This review article discusses the pathophysiology and [...] Read more.
Periparturient diseases continue to be the greatest challenge to both farmers and dairy cows. They are associated with a decrease in productivity, lower profitability, and a negative impact on cows’ health as well as public health. This review article discusses the pathophysiology and diagnostic opportunities of mastitis, the most common disease of dairy cows. To better understand the disease, we dive deep into the causative agents, traditional paradigms, and the use of new technologies for diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of mastitis. This paper takes a systems biology approach by highlighting the relationship of mastitis with other diseases and introduces the use of omics sciences, specifically metabolomics and its analytical techniques. Concluding, this review is backed up by multiple studies that show how earlier identification of mastitis through predictive biomarkers can benefit the dairy industry and improve the overall animal health. Full article
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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
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 2732
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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