Effect of Different Potassium Levels in Hay on Acid-Base Status and Mineral Balance in Periparturient Dairy Cows

J Dairy Sci. 2009 Dec;92(12):6123-33. doi: 10.3168/jds.2009-2449.


Forages commonly used in dry cow rations contain high K concentrations. This results in a high dietary cation-anion difference (DCAD), which can compromise the calcium homeostasis of periparturient cows. The aim of this study was to determine the effect of 2 types of hay, fed during the prepartum period and differing in their K concentrations, on the peripartum acid-base status and mineral balance of dairy cows. During the prepartum period, the cows of group K(33) (n = 6) received a diet based on hay with a high K concentration (33 g/kg of DM), whereas the cows of group K(13) (n = 6) received a diet based on hay with a low K concentration (13 g/kg of DM). Both experimental diets were formulated to be isoenergetic and isonitrogenous. After calving, all cows received the same diet based on hay K(33). Blood and urine samples were taken on d 14, 7, and 3 before parturition, at parturition, and then daily during the first 8 d after calving. Concentrations of minerals were analyzed in both blood and urine. Creatinine was also measured in urine for the calculation of the mineral:creatinine ratio. The acid-base parameters in blood (pH and HCO(3)(-) concentration) and urine (pH, net acid-base excretion, and base-acid quotient) were determined on d 14, 7, and 3 before parturition, at parturition, and on d 1 after parturition. The use of hay K(13) reduced the DCAD value of the prepartum diet by half (195 vs. 514 mEq/kg of DM). No significant differences between the 2 groups were observed for blood acid-base indicators or plasma minerals except for the Mg plasma concentration, which tended to be higher in group K(13) from d 3 prepartum to d 2 after calving. In group K(13), urinary Ca excretion tended to be higher from d 3 prepartum to d 1 after parturition than that in group K(33). On d 3 before parturition, urinary pH and net acid-base excretion were significantly lower in group K(13) than in group K(33). On d 14, 7, and 3 before parturition, base-acid quotient was significantly lower in group K(13) than in group K(33). In group K(13), daily feed intake and hence daily intake of Ca, P, and Mg during d 3 and 4 after parturition were higher than in group K(33). The decrease of the DCAD in positive ranges by feeding a low-K hay before parturition induced a reduction of the metabolic alkalotic charge, as observed in acid-base parameters in urine, and increased the availability of Ca and P as a result of higher feed intake at the onset of lactation.

MeSH terms

  • Acid-Base Equilibrium / physiology*
  • Animal Feed / analysis*
  • Animals
  • Calcium / blood
  • Calcium / urine
  • Cattle / metabolism
  • Cattle / physiology*
  • Dairying
  • Eating / physiology
  • Female
  • Hydrogen-Ion Concentration
  • Magnesium / blood
  • Magnesium / urine
  • Minerals / metabolism*
  • Parturition
  • Potassium / analysis
  • Potassium / blood
  • Potassium / metabolism*
  • Potassium / urine
  • Pregnancy
  • Urine / chemistry


  • Minerals
  • Magnesium
  • Potassium
  • Calcium