Alternatives to linear analysis of energy balance data from lactating dairy cows

E. Kebreab, C. K. Reynolds, M. S. Dhanoa, Jim France, R. E. Agnew, T. Yan, Jan Dijkstra, D. E. Beever

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The current energy requirements system used in the United Kingdom for lactating dairy cows utilizes key parameters such as metabolizable energy intake (MEI) at maintenance (MEm), the efficiency of utilization of MEI for 1) maintenance, 2) milk production (kl), 3) growth (kg), and the efficiency of utilization of body stores for milk production (kt). Traditionally, these have been determined using linear regression methods to analyze energy balance data from calorimetry experiments. Many studies have highlighted a number of concerns over current energy feeding systems particularly in relation to these key parameters, and the linear models used for analyzing. Therefore, a database containing 652 dairy cow observations was assembled from calorimetry studies in the United Kingdom. Five functions for analyzing energy balance data were considered: straight line, two diminishing returns functions, (the Mitscherlich and the rectangular hyperbola), and two sigmoidal functions (the logistic and the Gompertz). Meta-analysis of the data was conducted to estimate kg and kt. Values of 0.83 to 0.86 and 0.66 to 0.69 were obtained for kg and kt using all the functions (with standard errors of 0.028 and 0.027), respectively, which were considerably different from previous reports of 0.60 to 0.75 for kg and 0.82 to 0.84 for kt. Using the estimated values of kg and kt, the data were corrected to allow for body tissue changes. Based on the definition of kl as the derivative of the ratio of milk energy derived from MEI to MEI directed towards milk production, MEm and kl were determined. Meta-analysis of the pooled data showed that the average kl ranged from 0.50 to 0.58 and MEm ranged between 0.34 and 0.64 MJ/kg of BW0.75 per day. Although the constrained Mitscherlich fitted the data as good as the straight line, more observations at high energy intakes (above 2.4 MJ/kg of BW0.75 per day) are required to determine conclusively whether milk energy is related to MEI linearly or not. Key Words: energy metabolism • dairy cow • lactation
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2904-2913
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Dairy Science
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2003


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