High producing dairy cows in early lactation are generally in negative energy balance and prone to develop ketosis. Their reduced appetite during the transition period challenges their ability to fulfill their nutrient requirements for milk production. The severity of this difference will depend on the cow’s genetic potential for milk production, the adequacy of the diet, feed and herd management practices, and the environment.
One of the most apparent consequences is the mobilization of body fat. Increases in plasma concentrations of non-esterified fatty acids (NEFA) during this period has been vastly reported in the scientific literature. This is usually constituted of a mix of different NEFAs released into the plasma as a result of lipolysis. Ketosis is a frequent metabolic disorder that can result from this fat mobilization, characterized by high levels of NEFAs and ketone bodies. Prevalence of both the subclinical and the clinical forms are frequent around the world resulting in increased treatment costs, and losses in production and animals.