Effect of dietary supplementation of sodium acetate and calcium butyrate on milk fat synthesis in lactating dairy cows

N. Urrutia, R. Bomberger, C. Matamoros, K. J. Harvatine

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

57 Scopus citations


Acetate is a major source of energy and substrate for milk fat synthesis in the dairy cow. We recently reported a linear increase in milk fat yield and greater than a 30% net apparent transfer of acetate to milk fat with ruminal infusion of neutralized acetate. Additionally, ruminal acetate infusion linearly increases plasma β-hydroxybutyrate. The objective of the current study was to investigate the ability of acetate and butyrate fed in a diet to increase milk fat synthesis. Twelve multiparous lactating Holstein cows were randomly assigned to treatments in a 3 × 3 Latin square design with 14-d periods that included a 7-d washout followed by 7 d of treatment. Cows were fed ad libitum a basal diet with a low risk for biohydrogenation-induced milk fat depression, and treatments were mixed into the basal diet. Treatments were 3.2% NaHCO 3 (control), 2.9% sodium acetate, and 2.5% calcium butyrate (carbon equivalent to acetate treatment) as a percent of diet dry matter. Feeding sodium acetate increased dry matter intake by 2.7 kg, had no effect on milk yield, and increased milk fat yield by 90 g/d and concentration by 0.2 percentage units, compared with control. Calcium butyrate decreased dry matter intake by 2.6 kg/d, milk yield by 1.65 kg/d, and milk fat yield by 60 g/d, compared with control. Sodium acetate increased concentration and yield of 16 carbon mixed source fatty acids (FA) and myristic acid, while decreasing the concentration of preformed FA, compared with control. Calcium butyrate had no effect on concentration of milk FA by source, but increased concentration of trans-10 C18:1 in milk by 18%, indicating a shift in rumen biohydrogenation pathways. Our data demonstrate that milk fat yield and concentration can be increased by feeding sodium acetate at 2.9% of diet dry matter, but not by feeding calcium butyrate at an equivalent carbon mass.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)5172-5181
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of dairy science
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2019

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Food Science
  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Genetics


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