Effect of fat source differing in fatty acid profile on metabolic parameters, fertilization, and embryo quality in high-producing dairy cows

Ronaldo L. A. Cerri, University of California
S. O. Juchem, University of California
Ricardo C. Chebel, University of California
Heloisa M. Rutigliano, Utah State University
R. G. S. Bruno, University of California
K. N. Galvão, University of California
W. W. Thatcher, University of Florida
José E. P. Santos, University of Flordia


The objectives were to evaluate the effects of source of fatty acids (FA) on embryo quality of dairy cows. A total of 154 Holstein cows were assigned randomly to 1 of 2 sources of FA supplemented at 2% of the dietary dry matter as calcium salts of either palm oil (PO) or linoleic and trans-octadecenoic acids (LTFA) from 25 d prepartum to 80 d in milk (DIM). Cows were presynchronized beginning at 30 ± 3 DIM and then subjected to the Ovsynch protocol beginning on d 39 ± 3 postpartum. Timed artificial insemination was performed 12 h after the final GnRH of the Ovsynch protocol with semen from a single sire of proven fertility. The uteri of cows were nonsurgically flushed at 5 d after artificial insemination for collection of embryos-oocytes. Ovaries were examined by ultrasonography throughout the synchronization protocol. Blood was sampled and plasma was analyzed for concentrations of metabolites and hormones. The body condition score and yields of milk and milk components were measured throughout the first 90 DIM. Treatment did not affect concentrations of nonesterified FA, β-hydroxybutyrate, glucose, and progesterone in plasma. Body condition was similar between treatments. Milk production was similar between treatments, but concentrations of fat in milk and yields of fat and 3.5% fat-corrected milk decreased in cows fed LTFA, whereas concentration of true protein increased. Source of dietary FA did not influence ovulatory responses, diameter of the ovulatory follicle, and diameter of the corpus luteum during synchronization. Embryo-oocyte recovery relative to the number of corpora lutea did not differ between treatments. Fertilization tended to increase in cows fed LTFA compared with cows fed PO. Feeding LTFA improved the proportion of excellent-, good-, and fair-quality embryos, and embryos from cows fed LTFA had a greater number of blastomeres than embryos from cows fed PO. Feeding a more unsaturated source of FA improved fertilization and embryo development in lactating dairy cows, despite similar indicators of metabolic status.