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We hypothesized that feeding 25-hydroxyvitamin D3 [25-(OH)D3] during lactation and prepartum in conjunction with negative dietary cation-anion difference diets would improve milk production, increase the probability of pregnancy, and reduce the incidence of postcalving diseases. Cows from 4 dairies with prepartum transition diets negative in dietary cation-anion difference were used in 2 randomized cohort experiments. In Experiment 1 (Exp. 1), cows were assigned to control [CON; n = 645; no 25-(OH)D3] or treatment [TRT; n = 537; 2 mg/d of 25-(OH)D3 from ∼21 d prepartum to parturition and 1 mg/d in lactation] groups at ∼21 d prepartum. Cows were monitored for weekly milk yield, milk composition every 60 d, and health and reproductive measures. In Experiment 2 (Exp. 2), cows (n = 2,064; median 147 d in milk) were assigned to 4 groups and monitored for the same measures as in Exp. 1 to the end of that lactation (L1), the subsequent transition (∼21 d prepartum to parturition), and the next lactation (L2). Groups were as follows, with the amount of 25-(OH)D3 fed (mg/d) indicated in parentheses for L1, transition, and L2, respectively: (A) control-control (CON-CON; 0-0-0), (B) treatment-treatment (TRT-TRT; 1-2-1), (C) control-treatment (CON-TRT; 0-2-1), and (D) treatment-control (TRT-CON; 1-0-0). For L1, a total of 1,032 cows entered the control groups A or C and a total of 1,032 cows in groups B or D. The number of cows in groups A to D that entered L2 was 521, 523, 273, and 248, respectively. Blood calcium, phosphorus, and 25-(OH)D3 concentrations were measured from 17 cows/group at 5 times. In Exp. 1, TRT cows had 0.2 lower log somatic cell count than CON cows (4.21 ± 0.045 vs. 4.01 ± 0.050, respectively) and multiparous TRT cows had 41 ± 23% higher probability of pregnancy/day than multiparous CON cows, resulting in a 22-d median decrease in time to pregnancy. Primiparous TRT cows had 1.67 ± 0.40 times greater odds of mastitis/day than primiparous CON cows. In Exp. 2 TRT-TRT cows had between 16 and 29% lower probability to be bred/day than other groups. Multiparous CON-CON and TRT-CON cows had 20 ± 8% and 30 ± 17% greater probability of pregnancy, respectively, than multiparous TRT-TRT cows. Serum calcium concentrations were not affected by group, but phosphorus and 25-(OH)D3 concentrations were highest in the TRT-TRT cows. The study provides further insights into the use of 25(OH)D3 in transition and lactation. The Authors. Published by Elsevier Inc. and Fass Inc. on behalf of the American Dairy Science Association®. This is an open access article under the CC BY-NC-ND license (


H M Golder, J McGrath, I J Lean. Effect of 25-hydroxyvitamin D3 during prepartum transition and lactation on production, reproduction, and health of lactating dairy cows. Journal of dairy science. 2021 May;104(5):5345-5374

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PMID: 33663856

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