Mammary gland utilization of amino acids and energy metabolites differs when dairy cow rations are isoenergetically supplemented with protein and fat

K. Nichols*, H. van Laar, A. Bannink, J. Dijkstra

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


Mammary gland utilization of AA and other metabolites in response to supplemental energy from protein (PT) and supplemental energy from fat (FT) was tested in a 2 × 2 factorial arrangement using a randomized complete block design. Fifty-six Holstein-Friesian dairy cows were adapted during a 28-d control period to a basal total mixed ration consisting of 34% grass silage, 33% corn silage, 5% grass hay, and 28% concentrate on a dry matter (DM) basis. Experimental rations were fed for 28 d immediately following the control period and consisted of (1) low protein, low fat (LP/LF), (2) high protein, low fat (HP/LF), (3) low protein, high fat (LP/HF), and (4) high protein, high fat (HP/HF). To obtain the high-protein (HP) and high-fat (HF) diets, intake of the basal ration was restricted and supplemented isoenergetically [net energy (MJ/d) basis] with 2.0 kg/d rumen-protected protein (soybean + rapeseed, 50:50 mixture on a DM basis) and 0.68 kg/d hydrogenated palm fatty acids on a DM basis. Arterial and venous blood samples were collected on d 28 of both periods. Isoenergetic supplements (MJ/d) of protein and fat independently and additively increased milk yield, PT increased protein yield, and FT increased fat yield. A PT × FT interaction affected arterial concentration of all essential AA (EAA) groups, where they increased in response to PT by a greater magnitude at the LF level (on average 35%) compared with the HF level (on average 14%). Mammary gland plasma flow was unaffected by PT or FT. Supplementation with PT tended to decrease mammary clearance of total EAA and decreased group 1 AA clearance by 19%. In response to PT, mammary uptake of total EAA and group 2 AA increased 12 and 14%, respectively, with significantly higher uptake of Arg, Ile, and Leu. Energy from fat had no effect on mammary clearance or uptake of any AA group. The mammary gland uptake:milk protein output ratio was not affected by FT, whereas PT increased this ratio for EAA and group 2 AA. Arterial plasma insulin concentration decreased in response to FT, in particular on the HP/HF diet, as indicated by a PT × FT interaction. Arterial concentrations of nonesterified fatty acids, triacylglycerol, and long-chain fatty acids increased in response to FT, and concentrations of β-hydroxybutyrate and acetate decreased in response to FT only at the HP level. Mammary clearance and uptake of triacylglycerol and long-chain fatty acids increased in response to FT. Energy from PT and FT increased lactose yield despite no change in arterial glucose concentration or mammary glucose uptake. Mammary-sequestered glucose with PT or FT was used in the same amount for lactose synthesis, and a positive net mammary glucose balance was found across all treatments. Results presented here illustrate metabolic flexibility of the mammary gland in its use of aminogenic versus lipogenic substrates for milk synthesis.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1160-1175
JournalJournal of Dairy Science
Issue number2
Early online date26 Dec 2018
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2019


  • amino acid
  • hydrogenated palm fatty acid
  • lactose synthesis
  • mammary gland
  • protein synthesis

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