Influence of blood metabolites and body condition score at parturition on fertility and milk yield in Holstein cows


  • Edir Torres Antonio Narro Agrarian Autonomous University
  • José E. García Antonio Narro Agrarian Autonomous University
  • Francisco G. Véliz Antonio Narro Agrarian Autonomous University
  • Carlos Leyva Antonio Narro Autonomous Agrarian University
  • Ulises Macías-Cruz Autonomous University of Baja California
  • Juan D. Hernández-Bustamante Antonio Narro Agrarian Autonomous University
  • Miguel Mellado Antonio Narro Agrarian Autonomous University



β-hydroxybutyrate, creatinine, glucose, blood urea nitrogen, body condition score, cows, dairy cattle, fertility, Holstein, milk yield, pregnancy rate, services per conception


Background: Variables associated with body tissue mobilization place dairy cows at greater risk of reproductive failure. Objective: To investigate the association between blood metabolites and body condition score (BCS) at the beginning of lactation and the reproductive efficiency and milk yield of Holstein cows in a hot environment. Methods: In total, 165 Holstein cows were selected for the study from which blood samples were taken to determine the concentration of various blood metabolites and their association with the reproductive efficiency and milk yield. Results: Cows with serum β-hydroxybutyrate (BHBA) ≤0.8 mmol/L one week postpartum were 3.3 times more likely to become pregnant at first service, and 2.2 times more likely to become pregnant before 80 d postpartum than cows with higher serum BHBA levels. The odds (OR 2.7; 95% CI 1.3–5.4; p<0.01) of a cow getting pregnant at first service were higher in cows with serum creatinine levels higher than 2.0 mg/dL one week postpartum than cows with lower blood levels of this metabolite. The BCS at 30 and 60 d postpartum that predicted pregnancy at first service and pregnancy to all services was 3.0. Blood urea nitrogen >15 mg/dL, creatinine <1.8 mg/dL, total protein ≤5.0 mg/dL one week postpartum, and >0.40 units of BCS loss during the first 30 d postpartum were critical threshold that predicted the likelihood of 305-d milk yield higher than 10,500 kg. Conclusions: Serum BHBA and creatinine one wk after calving as well as BCS 30 and 60 d post-calving provided reasonably accurate cut-off screening values to discriminate cows with better reproductive performance and higher 305-d milk yield.

= 547 veces | PDF
= 501 veces|


Download data is not yet available.

Author Biographies

Edir Torres, Antonio Narro Agrarian Autonomous University
Antonio Narro Agrarian Autonomous University, Department of Veterinary Medicine.

José E. García, Antonio Narro Agrarian Autonomous University
Antonio Narro Agrarian Autonomous University, Department of Animal Nutrition.

Francisco G. Véliz, Antonio Narro Agrarian Autonomous University
Antonio Narro Agrarian Autonomous University, Department of Veterinary Medicine.

Carlos Leyva, Antonio Narro Autonomous Agrarian University
Antonio Narro Agrarian Autonomous University, Department of Veterinary Medicine.

Ulises Macías-Cruz, Autonomous University of Baja California
Autonomous University of Baja California, Institute of Agricultural Sciences.

Juan D. Hernández-Bustamante, Antonio Narro Agrarian Autonomous University
Antonio Narro Agrarian Autonomous University, Department of Veterinary Medicine.

Miguel Mellado, Antonio Narro Agrarian Autonomous University
Antonio Narro Agrarian Autonomous University, Department of Animal Nutrition.


Agenäs S, Burstedt E, Holtenius K. Effects of feeding intensity during the dry period. 1 Feed intake body weight and milk production. J Dairy Sci 2003; 86(3): 870–882. DOI:

Ashworth CJ, Toma LM, Hunter MG. Nutritional effects on oocyte and embryo development in mammals: implications for reproductive efficiency and environmental sustainability. Philosoph Trans Royal Soc London Series B Biol Sci 2009; 364(1534): 3351–3361. DOI:

Barletta RV, Maturana Filho M, Carvalho PD, Del Valle TA, Netto AS, Rennó FP, Mingoti RD, Gandra JR, Mourão GB, Fricke PM, Sartori R, Madureira EH, Wiltbank MC. Association of changes among body condition score during the transition period with NEFA and BHBA concentrations milk production fertility and health of Holstein cows. Theriogenology 2017; 104: 30–36. DOI:

Baxmann AC, Ahmed MS, Marques NC, Menon VB, Pereira AB, Kirsztajn GM, Heilberg IP. Influence of muscle mass and physical activity on serum and urinary creatinine and serum cystatin. C. Clin J Am Soc Nephrol 2008; 3(2): 348–354. DOI:

Bewley JM, Schutz MM. Review: an interdisciplinary review of body condition scoring for dairy cattle. Profess Anim Sci 2008; 24(6): 507-529. DOI:

Buckley F, O’Sullivan K, Mee JF, Evans RD, Dillon P. Relationships among milk yield body condition cow weight and reproduction in spring-calving Holstein Fresians. J Dairy Sci 2003; 86(7): 2308-2319. DOI:

Butler WR. Energy balance relationships with follicular development ovulation and fertility in postpartum dairy cows. Livest Prod Sci 2003; 83(2-3): 211-218. DOI:

Carvalho PD, Souza AH, Amundson MC, Hackbart KS, Fuenzalida MJ, Herlihy MM, Ayres H, Dresch AR, Vieira LM, Guenther JN, Grummer RR, Fricke PM, Shaver RD. Relationships between fertility and postpartum changes in body condition and body weight in lactating dairy cows. J Dairy Sci 2014; 97(6): 3666–3683. DOI:

Costa-Silva LF, de Campos Valadares Filho S, Chizzotti ML, Rotta PP, Prados LF, Valadares RFD, Zanetti D, da Silva Braga JM. Creatinine excretion and relationship with body weight of Nellore cattle. Rev Bras Zoot 2012; 41(3): 807-810. DOI:

Duffield T. Subclinical ketosis in lactating dairy cattle. Vet Clin North Am Food Anim Pract 2000; 16(2): 231-253. DOI:

FASS. Guide for the care and use of agricultural animals in agricultural research and teaching Federation of Animal Science Societies Champaign IL USA. 2010.

Garverick HA, Harris MN, Vogel-Bluel R, Sampson JD, Bader J, Lamberson WR, Spain JN, Lucy MC, Youngquist RS. Concentrations of nonesterified fatty acids and glucose in blood of periparturient dairy cows are indicative of pregnancy success at first insemination. J Dairy Sci 2013; 96(1): 181-188. DOI:

Gheise NJE, Riasi A, Zare Shahneh A, Celi P, Ghoreishi SM. Effect of pre-calving body condition score and previous lactation on BCS change blood metabolites oxidative stress and milk production in Holstein dairy cows. Italian J Anim Sci 2017; 16(3): 474–483. DOI:

Gillund P, Reksen O, Gröhn YT, Karlberg K. Body condition related to ketosis and reproductive performance in Norwegian dairy cows. J Dairy Sci 2001; 84(6): 1390–1396. DOI:

Gomez NA, Conley AJ, Robinson PH. Effects of long-term near-term and real-time energy balance and blood progesterone concentrations on the pregnancy rate of contemporary dairy cows. Anim Reprod Sci 2018; 189(1): 136–145. DOI:

Grummer RR, Mashek DG, Hayirli A. Dry matter intake and energy balance in the transition period. Vet Clin North Am Food Anim Prac 2004; 20(3): 447-470. DOI:

Grummer RR. Strategies to improve fertility of high yielding dairy farms: management of the dry period. Theriogenology 2007; 68(1): S281–S288. DOI:

Guzel S, Tanriverdi M. Comparison of serum leptin glucose total cholesterol and total protein levels in fertile and repeat breeder cows. Rev Bras Zoot 2014; 43(12): 643-647. DOI:

Hristov AN, Etter RP, Ropp JK, Grandeen KL. Effect of dietary crude protein level and degradability on ruminal fermentation and nitrogen utilization in lactating dairy cows. J Anim Sci 2004; 82(11): 3219–3229. DOI:

Kim SW, Jung HW, Kim CH, Kim KIl, Chin HJ, Lee H. A new equation to estimate muscle mass from creatinine and cystatin C. PLoS ONE 2016; 11(2): e0148495. DOI:

Leroy JL, Van holder T, Van Knegsel ATM, Garcia-Ispierto I, Bols PEJ. Nutrient prioritization in dairy cows early postpartum: mismatch between metabolism and fertility? Reprod Domest Anim 2008; 43(2): 96-103. DOI:

López-Gatius F, Yániz J, Madriles-Helm D. Effects of body condition score and score change on the reproductive performance of dairy cows: A meta-analysis. Theriogenology 2003; 59(3-4): 801–812. DOI:

McArt JAA, Nydam DV, Oetzel GR, Overton TR, Ospina, PA. Elevated non-esterified fatty acids and β-hydroxybutyrate and their association with transition dairy cow performance. Vet J 2013; 198(3): 560–570. DOI:

McCabe CJ, Boerman JP. Invited Review: Quantifying protein mobilization in dairy cows during the transition period. Appl Anim Sci 2020; 36(3): 389-396. DOI:

Mellado M, García JE, Véliz Deras FG, de Santiago MA, Mellado J, Gaytán LR, Ángel-García O. The effects of periparturient events mastitis lameness and ketosis on reproductive performance of Holstein cows in a hot environment. Austral J Vet Sci 2018a; 50(1): 1–8. DOI:

Mellado M, Dávila A, Gaytán L, Macías-Cruz U, Avendaño-Reyes L, García JE. Risk factors for clinical ketosis and association with milk production and reproduction variables in dairy cows in a hot environment. Trop Anim Health Prod 2018b; 50(7): 1611-1616. DOI:

Nozad S, Ramin AG, Moghadam G, Asri-Rezaei S, Babapour A, Ramin S. Relationship between blood urea protein creatinine triglycerides and macro-mineral concentrations with the quality and quantity of milk in dairy Holstein cows. Vet Res Forum 2012; 3(1): 55–59. DOI:

NRC. National Research Council. Nutrient Requirements of Dairy Cattle 7th ed Washington DC National Academic Press. 2001.

Oikonomou G, Arsenos G, Valergakis GE, Tsiaras A, Zygoyiannis D, Banos G. Genetic relationship of body energy and blood metabolites with reproduction in Holstein cows. J Dairy Sci 2008; 91(11): 4323–4332. DOI:

Ospina PA, Nydam DV, Stokol T, Overton TR. Associations of elevated nonesterified fatty acids and β-hydroxybutyrate concentrations with early lactation reproductive performance and milk production in transition dairy cattle in the northeastern United States. J Dairy Sci 2010; 93(4): 1596–1603. DOI:

Patel SS, Molnar MZ, Tayek JA, Ix JH, Noori N, Benner D, Heymsfield S, Kopple J, D, Kovesdy CP, Kalantar-Zadeh K. Serum creatinine as a marker of muscle mass in chronic kidney disease: Results of a cross-sectional study and review of literature. J Cachexia Sarcop Muscle 2013; 4(1): 19–29. DOI:

Pedernera M, Celi P, Garci SC, Salvin HE, Barchia I, Fulkerson WJ. Effect of diet energy balance and milk production on oxidative stress in early-lactating dairy cows grazing pasture. Vet J 2010; 186(3): 352–357. DOI:

Pires JAA, Delavaud C, Faulconnier Y, Pomiès D, Chilliard Y. Effects of body condition score at calving on indicators of fat and protein mobilization of periparturient Holstein-Friesian cows. J Dairy Sci 2013; 96(10): 6423–6439. DOI:

Roche JR, Friggens NC, Kay JK, Fisher MW, Stafford KJ, Berry DP. Invited review: body condition score and its association with dairy cow productivity health and welfare. J Dairy Sci 2009; 92(12): 5769–5801. DOI:

Roche JR, Burke CR, Crookenden MA, Heiser A, Loor JL, Meier S, Mitchell MD, Phyn CVC, Turner SA. Fertility and the transition dairy cow. Reprod Fert Develop 2017; 30(1): 85–100. DOI:

Rutherford AJ, Oikonomou G, Smith RF. The effect of subclinical ketosis on activity at estrus and reproductive performance in dairy cattle. J Dairy Sci 2016; 99(6): 4808–4815. DOI:

Santos JEP, Rutigliano HM, Sa Filho MF. Risk factors for resumption of postpartum estrous cycles and embryonic survival in lactating dairy cows. Anim Reprod Sci 2009; 110(3-4): 207–221. DOI:

SAS/STAT Software. Version 9.4, SAS Institute Inc., Cary, NC, USA; 2016.

Shin EK, Jeong JK, Choi IS, Kang HG, Hur TY, Jung YH, Kim IH. Relationships among ketosis serum metabolites body condition and reproductive outcomes in dairy cows. Theriogenology 2015; 84(2): 252–260. DOI:

Shrestha HK, Nakao T, Suzuki T, Akita M, Higaki T. Relationships between body condition score body weight and some nutritional parameters in plasma and resumption of ovarian cyclicity postpartum during pre-service period in high-producing dairy cows in a subtropical region in Japan. Theriogenology 2005(4); 64: 855–866. DOI:

Sinclair KD, Garnsworthy PC, Mann GE, Sinclair LA. Reducing dietary protein in dairy cow diets: Implications for nitrogen utilization milk production welfare and fertility. Animal 2014; 82(2): 262–274. DOI:

Tothova C, Nagy O, Kovac G. Serum proteins and their diagnostic utility in veterinary medicine: a review. Vet Med 2016; 619(9): 475–496. DOI:

Van Hoeck V, Bols PEJ, Binelli M, Leroy JLMR. Reduced oocyte and embryo quality in response to elevated non-esterified fatty acid concentrations: A possible pathway to subfertility? Anim Reprod Sci 2014; 149(1-2): 19-29. DOI:

Walsh RB, Walton JS, Kelton DF, LeBlanc SJ, Leslie KE, Duffield TF. The effect of subclinical ketosis in early lactation on reproductive performance of postpartum dairy cows. J Dairy Sci 2007; 90(6): 2788–2796. DOI:

Wathes DC, Cheng Z, Bourne N, Taylor VJ, Coffey MP, Brotherstone S. Differences between primiparous and multiparous dairy cows in the inter-relationships between metabolic traits milk yield and body condition score in the periparturient period. Dom Anim Endocrinol 2007a; 33(2): 203–225. DOI:

Wathes DC, Fenwick M, Cheng Z, Bourne N, Llewellyn S, Morris DG, Kenny D, Murphy J, Fitzpatrick R. Influence of negative energy balance on cyclicity and fertility in the high producing dairy cow. Theriogenology 2007b; 68(1): 232-241. DOI:

Whittet KM, Watson AK, Erickson GE, Klopfenstein TJ. Factors affecting urinary creatinine in heifers and cows. Translat Anim Sci 2019; 3(1): 532–540. DOI:




How to Cite

Torres, E., García, J. E., Véliz, F. G., Leyva, C., Macías-Cruz, U., Hernández-Bustamante, J. D., & Mellado, M. (2020). Influence of blood metabolites and body condition score at parturition on fertility and milk yield in Holstein cows. Revista Colombiana De Ciencias Pecuarias, 34(4), 291–304.



Original research articles

Most read articles by the same author(s)

Similar Articles

> >> 

You may also start an advanced similarity search for this article.