Gain and loss of subcutaneous and abdominal adipose tissue depot mass of German Holstein dairy cows with different body conditions during the transition period
Subcutaneous adipose tissue (SCAT) and abdominal adipose tissue (AAT) depots are mobilized during the fresh cow period (FCP) and early lactation period (ELP) to counteract the negative energy balance (NEB). Earlier studies suggested that fat depots contribute differently to lipomobilization and may vary in functionality. Differences between the adipose depots might influence the development of metabolic disorders. Thus, the gain and loss of subcutaneous and abdominal adipose depot masses in Holstein cows with lower and higher body condition (mean body condition scores: 3.48 and 3.87, respectively) were compared in the period from d -42 to d 70 relative to parturition in this study. Animals of the 2 experimental groups represented adequately conditioned and overconditioned cows. Estimated depot mass (eDM) of SCAT, AAT, retroperitoneal, omental, and mesenteric adipose depots of 31 pluriparous German Holstein cows were determined via ultrasonography at d -42, 7, 28, and 70 relative to parturition. The cows were grouped according to the eDM of SCAT on d -42 [low body condition (LBC) group: n = 16, mean eDM 8.6 kg; high body condition (HBC) group: n = 15, mean eDM 15.6 kg]. Average daily change (prepartum gain and postpartum loss) in depot masses during dry period (DP; from d -42 to d 7), FCP (d 7 to d 28), and ELP (d 28 to d 70) were calculated and daily dry matter intake and lactation performance recorded. Cows of this study stored about 2 to 3 times more fat in AAT than in SCAT depots. After parturition, on average more adipose tissue mass was lost from the AAT than the SCAT depot (0.23 kg/d vs. 0.14 kg/d). Cows with high compared with low body condition had similar gains in AAT (0.33 kg/d) and SCAT (0.14 kg/d) masses during the DP but mobilized significantly more adipose tissue mass from both depots after calving (AAT, HBC vs. LBC: 0.30 vs. 0.17 kg/d; SCAT, HBC vs. LBC: 0.19 vs. 0.10 kg/d). Correlation analysis indicated a functional disparity between AAT and SCAT. In the case of AAT (R2 = 0.36), the higher the gain in adipose mass during DP, the higher the loss in FCP, but this was not the case for SCAT. During FCP, a greater NEB resulted in greater loss of mass from SCAT (R2 = 0.18). In turn, greater mobilization of SCAT mass led to a higher calculated feed efficiency (R2 = 0.18). However, AAT showed no such correlations. On the other hand, during ELP, loss of both SCAT and AAT mass correlated positively with feed efficiency (R2 = 0.35 and 0.33, respectively). The results indicate that feed efficiency may not be an adequate criterion for performance evaluation in cows during NEB. Greater knowledge of functional disparities between AAT and SCAT depots may improve our understanding of excessive lipomobilization and its consequences for metabolic health and performance of dairy cows during the transition period.