Effects of rumen-protected choline supplementation on metabolic and performance responses of transition dairy cows

J Anim Sci. 2015 Apr;93(4):1896-904. doi: 10.2527/jas.2014-8606.


The objective of this experiment was to compare metabolic and milk production parameters in dairy cows supplemented and nonsupplemented with rumen-protected choline (RPC) during the transition period. Twenty-three nonlactating, multiparous, pregnant Holstein cows were ranked by BW and BCS 21 d before expected date of calving and immediately were assigned to receive (n = 12) or not receive (control; n = 11) RPC until 45 d in milk (DIM). Cows supplemented with RPC received (as-fed basis) 50 and 100 g/d of RPC (18.8% choline) before and after calving, respectively. Before calving, cows were maintained in 2 drylot pens according to treatment with ad libitum access to corn silage, and individually they received (as-fed basis) 3 kg/cow daily of a concentrate. Upon calving, cows were moved to 2 adjacent drylot pens according to treatment, milked twice daily, offered (as-fed basis) 35 kg/cow daily of corn silage, and individually received a concentrate formulated to meet their nutritional requirements after milking. The RPC was individually offered to cows as a topdressing into the morning concentrate feeding. Before calving, cow BW and BCS were recorded weekly, and blood samples were collected every 5 d beginning on d -21 relative to expected calving date. Upon calving and until 45 DIM, BW and BCS were recorded weekly, individual milk production was recorded daily, and milk samples were collected once a week and analyzed for fat, protein, and total solids. Blood samples were collected every other day from 0 to 20 DIM and every 5 d from 20 to 45 DIM. Based on actual calving dates, cows receiving RPC or control began receiving treatments 16.8 ± 1.7 and 17.3 ± 2.0 d before calving, respectively. No treatment effects were detected (P ≥ 0.18) on postpartum concentrate intake, BW and BCS, or serum concentrations of cortisol, β-hydroxybutyrate, NEFA, glucose, and IGF-I. Cows supplemented with RPC had greater (P ≤ 0.01) mean serum haptoglobin and insulin concentrations compared with control. Cows supplemented with RPC had greater (P < 0.01) milk protein, total solids (P < 0.01), and milk fat concentrations (P = 0.09) compared with control. No treatment effects were detected (P ≥ 0.43) for milk yield parameters, such as fat-corrected or solids-corrected milk yield. In conclusion, supplementing RPC to transition dairy cows increased haptoglobin and insulin concentrations and benefited milk composition.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • 3-Hydroxybutyric Acid / blood
  • Animal Feed
  • Animals
  • Blood Glucose / metabolism
  • Cattle / metabolism*
  • Choline / pharmacology*
  • Diet / veterinary
  • Dietary Supplements*
  • Female
  • Haptoglobins / metabolism*
  • Insulin / blood*
  • Lactation / drug effects*
  • Lactation / metabolism
  • Milk / drug effects*
  • Milk / metabolism
  • Milk Proteins / drug effects
  • Milk Proteins / metabolism
  • Postpartum Period
  • Pregnancy
  • Rumen / drug effects*
  • Rumen / metabolism
  • Time Factors
  • Weaning


  • Blood Glucose
  • Haptoglobins
  • Insulin
  • Milk Proteins
  • Choline
  • 3-Hydroxybutyric Acid