Factors that affect heat production in lactating Jersey cows

D. L. Morris, T. M. Brown-Brandl, P. S. Miller, W. P. Weiss, R. R. White, P. J. Kononoff

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Heat production (HP) represents a major energy cost in lactating dairy cows. Better understanding of factors that affect HP will improve our understanding of energy metabolism. Our objective was to derive models to explain variation in HP of lactating Jersey cows. Individual animal-period data from 9 studies (n = 293) were used. The data set included cows with a wide range (min to max) in days in milk (44–410) and milk yield (7.8–43.0 kg/d). Diets included corn silage as the predominate forage source, but diets varied (min to max on DM basis) in crude protein (CP; 15.2–19.5%), neutral detergent fiber (NDF; 35.5–43.0%), starch (16.2–31.1%), and crude fat (2.2 to 6.4%) contents. Average HP was (mean ± standard deviation) 22.1 ± 2.86 Mcal/d, or 28.1 ± 3.70% of gross energy intake. Eight models were fit to explain variation in HP: (1) dry matter intake (DMI; INT); (2) milk fat, protein, and lactose yield (MILKCOMP); (3) INT and milk yield (INT+MY); (4) INT and MILKCOMP/DMI (INT+MILKCOMP); (5) mass of digested NDF, CP, and starch (DIG); (6) INT and digested energy (INT+DE); (7) INT and NDF, CP, and starch digestibility (INT+DIG); or (8) INT+MILKCOMP model plus urinary N excretion (INT+MILKCOMP+UN). For all HP models, metabolic body weight was included. All models were derived via a backward elimination approach and included the random effects of study, cow, and period within block within study. The INT models adequately explained variation in HP with a nonrandom effect–adjusted concordance correlation coefficient of 0.84. Similar adjusted concordance correlation coefficients (0.79–0.85) were observed for other HP models. The HP associated with milk protein yield and supply of digestible protein was greater than other milk production and nutrient digestibility variables. The HP associated with urinary N excretion was 5.32. Overall, HP can be adequately predicted from metabolic body weight and DMI. Milk component yield, nutrient digestibility, or urinary N excretion explained similar variation as DMI. Coefficients for milk protein and protein digestion suggest that digestion and metabolism of protein and synthesis of milk protein contribute substantially to HP of a dairy cow.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)346-356
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Dairy Science
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2021


  • empirical model
  • energy
  • indirect calorimetry

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Food Science
  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Genetics


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