The objective of this study was to examine the effects of live yeast (LY) supplementation and body condition score (BCS, 1-5 scale) at calving on milk production, metabolic status, and rumen physiology of postpartum (PP) dairy cows. Forty Holstein-Friesian dairy cows were randomly allocated to a 2 × 2 factorial design and blocked by yield, parity, BCS, and predicted calving date. Treatments were body condition at calving (low for BCS ≤3.5 or high for BCS ≥3.75; n=20) and supplementation with LY (2.5 and 10 g of LY/d per cow for pre- and postcalving, respectively; control, no LY supplementation; n=20). The supplement contained 10(9) cfu of Saccharomyces cerevisiae/g (Yea-Sacc(1026) TS, Alltech Inc., Nashville, TN). Daily milk yield, dry matter intake, milk composition, BCS, body weight, and backfat thickness were recorded. Blood samples were harvested for metabolite analysis on d 1, 5, 15, 25, and 35 PP. Liver samples were harvested by biopsy for triacylglycerol (TAG) and glycogen analysis on d 7 precalving, and on d 7 and 21 PP. Rumen fluid was sampled by rumenocentesis for all cows on d 7 and 21 PP. Supplementation with LY had no effect on milk yield, dry matter intake, rumen fluid pH, or blood metabolites concentration of dairy cows with high or low BCS at calving. Feeding LY increased rumen acetate proportion and protozoal population, tended to increase liver glycogen, and decreased rumen ammonia nitrogen during early lactation. Over-conditioned cows at calving had greater body reserve mobilization and milk production and lower feed intake, whereas cows with a moderate BCS at calving had greater feed intake, lower concentrations of nonesterified fatty acids and β-hydroxybutyrate, lower liver TAG and TAG:glycogen ratio, and faster recovery from body condition loss. Additionally, the data suggest that concentrations of liver enzymes in blood might be used as an indicator for liver TAG:glycogen ratio. Results indicate that in the case of this experiment, where the control treatment was associated with an acceptable rumen pH, feeding yeast did not significantly improve indicators of energy status in dairy cows.
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