Visceral tissue growth and proliferation during the bovine lactation cycle

R. L. Baldwin VI, K. R. McLeod, A. V. Capuco

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47 Scopus citations


Twenty one multiparous, nonpregnant, lactating dairy cows were used to assess the impact of stage of lactation on visceral tissue mass and small intestinal cell proliferation. Cows were slaughtered at each of 4 stages of lactation: 14, 90, 120, and 240 d of lactation. With stage of lactation, DMI increased through d 90 and thereafter remained similar through d 240 (quadratic). Carcass weight and empty body weight (EBW) declined with stage of lactation through d 120 and increased thereafter (quadratic). As a percentage of EBW, rumen, small intestine, and liver weights increased with increasing stage of lactation (quadratic), increasing from 14 to 120 d and declining through 240 d. Stage of lactation did not have a measurable affect on reticulum, omasum, abomasum, or large intestine weights as a percentage of EBW. Visceral adipose mass as a percentage of EBW declined with stage of lactation to a minimum at 120 d and increased by 240 d (quadratic). Concentrations of RNA and DNA of digestive tract organs were largely unaffected by stage of lactation with the exception of the liver DNA concentration through d 120 (quadratic). The proliferative growth fraction (Ki67) was unaffected by stage of lactation. However, bromodeoxyuridine labeling of jejunal crypts exhibited a cubic response with stage of lactation and tritiated thymidine incorporation by duodenal epithelium increased with stage of lactation through d 120, declining thereafter (quadratic). Mass of visceral tissues increase to meet the energetic demands of lactation and that increased absorption capacity of the intestines is achieved by hyperplastic growth of the intestinal epithelium.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2977-2986
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Dairy Science
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2004


  • Cow
  • Dairy
  • Lactation
  • Visceral organs

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Food Science
  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Genetics


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