Leveraging automated milking systems to employ targeted saturated fatty acid supplementation strategies to early lactation dairy cows

PI: Ryan Pralle


Pralle is an assistant professor of animal and dairy science in the UW–Platteville School of Agriculture. His research interests span dairy cow nutrition and predictive analytics. Specifically, his research strives to develop data-driven management tools and strategies to optimize the nutrient supply to and the metabolic health of individual cows. Pralle’s position is funded by the Dairy Innovation Hub.

Dairy cows often experience a negative energy balance during the transition to lactation period, where dietary energy intake is outpaced by the demands of lactation. This early lactation energy deficit puts dairy cows at risk for metabolic disorders like hyperketonemia, which causes reduced productivity, low fertility, greater risk of health problems and ultimately, culling. Saturated fatty acids (FA) have demonstrated potential to improve early lactation cow productivity and health, with higher-yielding cows potentially having more benefit from saturated FA than lower-yielding cows. However, it is difficult to supplement early lactation cows based on productivity because they are often housed in mixed groups. Automated milking systems enable strategic supplementation of feedstuffs like saturated FA to specific cows housed in mixed groups. This project will determine the effectiveness of saturated FA supplementation to early lactation cows for improved cow productivity and metabolic health at different production levels.

Peter Lammers