The aim of this study was to compare the metabolic status of dairy and dual-purpose cows kept in a single herd under identical management conditions. Milk yield and blood biochemical parameters were examined during the periparturient period in Holstein (H) and Fleckvieh (F) cows. Blood samples were first taken on average 14 days prior to the expected date of calving, next in the peripartal period (1–4 days postpartum), and then at weekly intervals (together with milk samples) until the end of the experiment (8 weeks postpartum). Milk yields were higher in H cows from the second week after calving whereas milk protein content always was higher in F cows over the whole experimental period. The level of metabolic stress determined using blood concentrations of nonesterified fatty acids (NEFA), β-hydroxybutyrate (BHB), triglycerides, and cholesterol was similar in both breeds. The proportion of animals with concentrations of NEFA and BHB above thresholds indicating increased risk of negative energy balance and subclinical ketosis was higher in the H breed in the first 2 weeks after calving. This corresponds with numerically higher concentrations of NEFA and BHB in H cows. Changes in the protein status of animals generally reflected the development in energy metabolism parameters. Serum total protein, albumin,and urea levels were similar in the two breeds. Total globulin was higher in H cows than in F cows in weeks 3, 4, and 5 after calving, and the albumin-to-globulin ratio was lower in H cows than in F cows in weeks 2, 3, and 4 after calving. In conclusion, although the onset of changes in key metabolic parameters was rather faster and more pronounced in the H breed, similar dynamics in the development of these parameters indicated similar levels of adaptive performance and body energy mobilization processes in the two breeds.
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