The effect of supplemental n-3 fatty acids during pre- and post-partum diets on health and production of Holstein dairy cows

Document Type : Research Paper


1 Ph.D. Graduate, Department of Animal Science, University College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, University of Tehran, Karaj, Iran,

2 Associate Prof., Department of Animal Science, University College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, University of Tehran, Karaj, Iran,

3 Assistant Prof., Department of Animal Production Management Research, Animal Science Research Institute, Karaj, Iran

4 Associate Prof., Department of Animal Science, University College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, University of Tehran, Karaj, Iran


The aim of this experiment was evaluating effect of fish oil versus palm oil on mammary gland health and milk production in Holstein cows. Ten multiparous Holstein cows were used from six week before up to 63 days after parturition. Feed intake and milk production were recorded daily, milk composition, body weight and body condition score were measured weekly and blood metabolites were determined 21 day intervals. Milk production with fish oil consumption was increased from 6th weeks of lactation (P<0.05). Among milk composition, only percentage and yield of milk fat were decreased in FO group (P<0.05). Milk somatic cell count (P=0.06) and score (P<0.05) were decreased with fish oil consumption. Among blood metabolites, serum total cholesterol, LDL-cholesterol and LDL to HDL-cholesterol ratio were decreased in FO group (P<0.05). Results indicated that consumption of fish oil in transition period besides conserving milk production can alleviate undesirable effects of negative energy balance in early lactation, and decrease milk somatic cell count.


  1. Abu-Ghazaleh, A.A., Potu, R. B. & Ibrahim, S. (2009). Short communication: The effect of substituting fish oil in dairy cow diets with docosahexaenoic acid-micro algae on milk composition and fatty acids profile. Journal of Dairy Science, 92, 6156-6159.
  2. Allen, M., Bradford, B. & Oba, M. (2009).The hepatic oxidation theory of the control of feed intake and its application to ruminants.  Journal of Animal Science, 87, 3317-3334.
  3. Allred, S. L., Dhiman, T. R., Brennand, C. P., Khanal, R. C., McMahon, D. J. & Luchini, N. D. (2006). Milk and cheese from cows fed calcium salts of palm and fish oil alone or in combination with soybean products. Journal of Dairy Science, 89, 234-248.
  4. Archer, G. S. (2005). Reducing stress in sheep by feeding the seaweed Ascophyllum Nodosum.Doctora thesis. Texas university, USA.
  5. Ballou, M. A., Gomes, R. C., Junchem, S. O. & DePeters, E. J. (2009). Effects of dietary supplemental fish oil during the peripartum period on blood metabolites and hepatic fatty acid compositions and total triacylglycerol concentrations of multiparous Holstein cows. Journal of Dairy Science, 92, 657-669.
  6. Erdman, R. A. (2011). Benchmark Dairy Feed Efficiency.  Feedstuffs, 82, 16-19.
  7. Fatahnia, F., Nikkhah, A. & Zamiri, M. J. (2007). Effect of dietary omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids sources on milk production and composition of Holstein cows in early lactation. Pakistanian Journal of Biological Science, 10, 575-582.
  8. Galbreath, C. W., Scholljegerdes, E. J., Lardy,  G. P., Odde, K. G., Wilson, M. E., Schroeder, J. W. & Vonnahme, K. A. ( 2008). Effect of feeding flax or linseed meal on progesterone clearance rate in ovariectomized ewes. Domestic Animal Endocrinology, 35,164-169.
  9. Grossi, P., Bertoni, G., Piccioli Cappelli, F. & Trevisi, E. (2013). Effect of the precalving administration of omega-3 fatty acids alone or in combination with acetylsalicylic acid in periparturient dairy cows. Journal of Animal Science, 91, 2657-2666.
  10. Grummer, R. R. & Carroll, D. J. (1991). Effects of dietary fat on metabolic disorders and reproductive performance of dairy cattle. Journal of Animal Science, 69, 3838-3852.
  11. Haag, M., Magada, O. N., Claassern, N., Bohmer, L. H. & Kruger, M. C. (2003). Omega-3 fatty acids modulate ATPase involved in duodenal Ca absorption. Prostaglandins, Leukotrienes & Essential Fatty Acids. 68, 423-429.
  12. Hashemi, S., Dehghan banadaki, M., Ganjkhanlu, M., Zali, A., & Kohram, H. (2014). Comparison of different sources of fatty acids in  close up period on ovarian cycle activity and blood parameters of primiparous Holstein dairy cows. Journal of Ruminant Research. 1, 1-18.( in Persian).
  13. Heravi Mousavi, A. R., Gilbert, R.O., Overton, T. R., Bauman, D. E. & Butler, W. R. (2007). Effects of feeding fish meal and n-3 fatty acids on milk yield and metabolic responses in early lactating dairy cows. Journal of Dairy Science, 90, 136-144.
  14. Herrera-Camacho, J., Soberano-Martinez, A., Duran, K. E. O., Aguilar- Perez, C. & Ku-Vera, J. C. (2011). Effect of fatty acids on reproductive performance of ruminants. M. Manafi (Ed.). Veterinary Medicine Science. Chapter 13. Artificial insemination in farm animals. ISBN 978-953-307-312-5.
  15. Hess, B. W., Moss, G. E.  & Rule, D. C. (2008). A decade of developments in the area of fat supplementation research with beef cattle and sheep. Journal of Animal Science, 86, E188-E204.
  16. Jenkins, T. C. & McGuire, M. A. (2006). Major advances in nutrition: Impact on milk composition. Journal of Dairy Science, 89, 1302-1310.
  17. Loor, J. J., Dann, H. M., Everts, R. E., Oliveira, R., Green, C. A., Janovick Guretzky, N. A., Rodriguez- zas, S. L., Lewin, H. A. &  Dracklet, J. K. (2005). Temporal gene expression profiling of liver from periparturient dairy cows reveal complex adaptive mechanisms in hepatic function. Phsiological Genomics, 23, 217-226.
  18. Mattos, R., Staples, C. R., Arteche, A., Wiltbank, M. C., Diaz, F. J., Jenkins, T. C. & Thatcher, W. W. (2004). The effects of feeding fish oil on uterine secretion of PGF2α, milk composition, and metabolic status of periparturient Holstein cows. Journal of Dairy Science, 87, 921-932.
  19. National Research Council. (2001). Nutrient Requirements of Dairy Cattle. 7th Rev. ed, National Academic Science, Washington, DC.
  20. Ordway, R. S., Ishler, V. A.  & Varga, G. A.  (2002). Effects of sucrose supplementation on dry matter intake, milk yield, and blood metabolites of periparturient Holstein dairy cows. Journal of Dairy Science, 85,879-888.
  21. Orth, R. (1992). Sample Day and Lactation Report. DHIA 200 Fact Sheet A-2. Mid-States DRPC, Ames, IA.
  22. Palmquist, D. L. (2009). Omega-3 fatty acids in metabolism, health, and nutrition and for modified animal product foods. (2009). The Professional Animal Scientist. 25, 207-249.
  23. Petit, H. V. (2003). Digestion, milk production, milk composition, and blood composition of dairy cows fed formaldehyde treated flaxseed or sunflower seed. Journal of Dairy Science, 86, 2637-2646.
  24. Pires, J., Pescara, J. & Grummer R. (2007). Reduction of plasma NEFA concentration by nicotinic acid enhances the response to insulin in feed-restricted Holstein cows. Journal of Dairy Science, 90, 4635-4642.
  25. Qui, X., Estridge, M. L. & Firkins, J. L. (2004). Effects of dry matter intake, addition of buffer and source of fat on duodenal flow and concentration of conjugated linoleic acid and trans-11 C18:1 in milk. Journal of Dairy Science, 87, 4278-4286.
  26. Rego, O., Rosa, H., Portugal, P., Cordeiro, R., Borba, A., Vouzela, C. & Bessa, R. J. B. (2005). Influence of dietary fish oil on conjugated linoleic acid, omega-3 and other fatty acids in milk fat from grazing dairy cows. Livestock Production Science. 95, 27-33.
  27. Robinson, R. S., Pushpakumara, P. G. A., Cheng, Z., Peters, A. R., Abayasekara, D. R. E. & Wathes, D. C. (2002). Effects of dietary polyunsaturated fatty acids on ovarian and uterine function in lactating dairy cows. Reproduction, 124,119-131.
  28. Roy, R., Chandrasekhar, D.  & Pujari, P. (2007). Dietary fish oil as hepatoprotective agent in Mus musculus. Indian Journal of Experimental Biology, 45, 367-370.
  29. Shingfield, J., Ahvenjarvi, S., Toivoven, V., Arola, A., Nurmela, K. V., Huhtanen, P. & Griinari, J. M. (2003). Effect of dietary fish oil on biohydrogenation of fatty acids and milk fatty acid content in cows. Journal of Animal Science, 77, 165-179.
  30. Shingfield, K.J., Lee, M. R. F., Humphries, D. J., Scollan, N. D., Toivoven, V., Beever, D. E. & Reynolds, C. K. (2011). Effect of linseed oil and fish oil alone or as an equal mixture on ruminal fatty acid metabolism in growing steers fed maize silage- based diets. Journal of Animal Science. 89, 3728-3741.
  31. Stokol, T. & Nydam, D. V. (2006). Effect of hemolysis on nonesterified fatty acid and β- hydroxybutyrate concentrations in bovine blood. Journal of Veterinary Diagnostic Investigation, 18, 466-469.
  32. Thomas, M. G., Bao, B. & Williams, G. L. (1997). Dietary fats varying in their fatty acid composition differentially influence follicular growth in cows fed isoenergetic diets. Journal of Dairy Science, 75, 2512-2519.
  33. Tyrrell, H. F. & Reid, J. T. (1965). Prediction of the energy value of cow's milk. Journal of Dairy Science, 48, 1215-1223.
  34. Van Knegsel, A., Van den Brand, H., Dijkstra, J., Van Straalen, W., Heetkamp, M., Tamminga, S. & Kemp, B. (2007). Dietary energy source in dairy cows in early lactation: energy partitioning and milk composition. Journal of Dairy Science, 90, 1467-1476.
  35. Weiss, W. P., Shoemaker, D. E., McBeth,  L. R. & St-Pierre, N. R. (2013). Effects on lactating dairy cows of oscillating dietary concentrations of unsaturated and total long-chain fatty acids. Journal of Dairy Science, 96, 506-514.
  36. Whitlock, L. A., Schingoethe, D. J., Abu-Ghazaleh, A. A., Hippen, A. R. & Kalscheur, K. F. (2006). Milk production and composition from cows fed small amounts of fish oil with extruded soybean. Journal of Dairy Science, 89, 3972-3980.
  37. Wildman, E. E., Jones, G. M., Wagner, P. E., Boman, R. L., Troutt, H. F. & Lesch, T. N. (19820. A dairy cow body condition scoring system and its relationship to selected production characteristics. Journal of Dairy Science, 65, 495-501.
  1. Andersen, J. B., Madsen, T. G., Larsen, T., Ingvartsen, K. L. & Nielsen, M. O. (2005). The effects of dry period versus continuous lactation on metabolic status performance in periparturient cows. Journal of Dairy Science, 88, 3530-3541.
  1. Bharathan, M., Schingoethe, D. J., Hippen, A.R., Kalscheur, K. F., Gibson, M.L. & Karges, K. (2008). Conjugated linoleic acid increases in milk from cows fed condensed corn distillers solubles and fish oil. Journal of Dairy Science, 91, 2796-2807.
  2. Boeckaert, C., Vlaeminck, B., Dijkstra, J., Issa-Zacharia, A., Van Nespen, T., Van Straalen, W. & Fievez, V. (2008). Effect of dietary starch or micro algae supplementation on rumen fermentation and milk fatty acid composition of dairy cows. Journal of Dairy Science, 91, 4714-4727.
  3. Bossaert, P., Leroy, J. L. M. R., De Vliegher, S. & Opsomer, G. (2008). Interrelations between glucose- induced insulin response, metabolic indicators, and time of first ovulation in high-yielding dairy cows. Journal of Dairy Science, 91, 3363-3371.
  4. Brickner, A. E., Pires, J. A. A., Gressley, T. F. & Grummer, R. R. (2009). Effects of abomasal lipid infusion on liver triglyceride accumulation and adipose lipolysis during fatty liver induction in dairy cows. Journal of Dairy Science, 92, 4954-4961.
  5. Butler, G., Stergiadis, S., Seal, C., Eyre, M. & Leifert, C. (2011). Fat composition of organic and conventional retail milk in northeast England. Journal of Dairy Science, 94, 24-36.
  1. Garnsworthy, P. C., Gong, J. G., Armstrong, D. G., Newbold, J. R.,  Marsden, M., Richards, S. E., Mann, G. E., Sinclair, K. D. & Webb, R. (2008). Nutrition, metabolism, and fertility in dairy cows: 3. Amino acids and ovarian function. Journal of Dairy Science, 91, 4190-4197.