Research exploring specific associations of markers of negative energy balance and Ca in postpartum Jersey cows with lactation performance is lacking. Our objectives were to evaluate the associations of total Ca concentration (tCa) measured at 1 through 3 d in milk (DIM) and free fatty acids (FFA), β-hydroxybutyrate (BHB), and glucose measured at 3 DIM with (1) the risk of multiparous Jersey cows being diagnosed with early-lactation diseases and culling, (2) milk production in the first 9 wk of lactation, and (3) the risk of pregnancy in the first 150 DIM. A cohort study was performed in 1 dairy herd in Texas. Multivariable Poisson regression models were built to evaluate the association of the analytes of interest with the risks of early-lactation diseases and culling in the first 60 DIM (i.e., binary outcomes). Linear mixed models were used to evaluate the association of the analytes of interest with milk production within the first 9 wk of lactation, and a Cox proportional hazard model was built to assess the risk of pregnancy within 150 DIM. A total of 380 cows were used in the final analyses. Total Ca measured at 1 through 3 DIM was not associated with the risk of metritis. Cows with increased FFA and BHB had an increased risk of being diagnosed with metritis and clinical mastitis, respectively. Increased concentrations of glucose and FFA and decreased tCa at 3 DIM were associated with an increased risk of culling. Reduced tCa concentrations at 1 DIM (≤1.84 mmol/L) and 2 DIM (≤2.04 mmol/L) were associated with increased milk production across the first 9 wk of lactation compared with tCa concentrations above those thresholds. Total Ca was not associated with milk production when assessed at 3 DIM, whereas increased FFA (≥0.37 mmol/L) and decreased glucose (≤2.96 mmol/L) at 3 DIM were associated with increased milk production. None of the metabolites measured were associated with the risk of pregnancy in the first 150 DIM. Our results demonstrate that tCa concentration assessed in the first 3 DIM show temporary associations with milk production and culling in multiparous Jersey cows. Although increased concentration of FFA assessed at 3 DIM was associated with greater milk yield, it was a detrimental factor for the risk of metritis. This study attempted to better elucidate the relationship of tCa, FFA, BHB, and glucose assessed in early postpartum with health and performance of Jersey cows. Based on this study, assessments performed at 3 DIM using tCa concentration ≤1.99 mmol/L for increased risk of early-lactation culling and FFA ≥0.43 mmol/L for increased risk of metritis could be used as starting points. More studies evaluating the dynamics of energy balance markers and tCa in postpartum Jersey cows using a greater number of herds are needed to better inform dairy consultants on critical levels for exacerbated postpartum negative energy balance and subclinical hypocalcemia for the Jersey breed.
- energy balance
- milk production