We postulated that daily drenching of propylene glycol to cows in early lactation would increase plasma glucose and insulin concentrations and improve fertility in postpartum cows. Thirty-six Holstein cows were assigned to treatment or control groups. Each treatment cow was given 500 ml of propylene glycol by drenching daily from 7 to 42 days of lactation. Blood samples for glucose, insulin, nonesterified fatty acids (NEFA), and plasma urea N were collected at 0, 30, and 90 min postdrenching once weekly during 1-6 weeks. Blood samples were collected for progesterone analysis and cows were palpated three times per week until 11 weeks to assess ovarian status. Propylene glycol did not affect dry matter intake (DMI), milk yield or energy balance in treatment cows. After drenching, propylene glycol increased (P < 0.01) plasma glucose and insulin and decreased (P < 0.01) NEFA; plasma urea N of the treatment group tended (P = 0.07) to be higher than that of the control group through 90 min. Days to first service, days open, and services per conception were not different between groups. Conception rates to first insemination were 33% in the control group and 57% in treated cows, but these were not significantly different. First ovulation of treatment cows occurred earlier than that of control cows (32.3 versus 44.5 days, P = 0.06) and the length of the first luteal phase was longer in treated cows (13.1 versus 7.3 days, P < 0.05). These data are consistent with the hypothesis that insulin is important for normal ovarian function. During negative energy balance, treatment with propylene glycol, which induced small increases in plasma concentrations of insulin, prevented the short luteal phase characteristic of the first estrous cycle in control cows.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Food Animals
- Animal Science and Zoology