The effect of stress on udder health of dairy cows

W H Giesecke
1985 Onderstepoort Journal of Veterinary Research  
The appropriate literature has been reviewed for the purpose of defining the phenomenon of stress in lactating dairy cattle, establishing a baseline concept of lactation stress and emphasizing the most significant aspects of the natural mammary defence mechanisms. Data on the general adaptation syndrome (GAS) make it clear that stress is essentially the rate of wear and tear of the biological system affected by a stressor either eliciting stress of the organism as a whole or partly so. Owing to
more » ... the variety of stressors which may affect the dairy cow at physiological and pathological levels, a definition of stress in the broad sense is indicated. This is essential from the point of view of the anti-homeostatic effects (metabolic and immunological) of lactation stress, aggravated by anti-homeostatic effects elicited by superimposed other types of stress (e.g. heat stress). The lactating cow, as a ruminant in a state of sustained stress, requires a special profile of hormonal mediators. In high yielding cows, for example, acute and sustained heat stress promotes increased activities of prolactin, progesterone and catecholamines. Compared with the mainly glycogenic/glycogenolytic metabolism of non-ruminant mammals, the lipogenic/lipolytic and glycogenic/glycogenolytic metabolism of the dairy cow depends on hormonal mediators which differ from those of the former not so much in their nature but in their magnitude and ratios. Stressors induce the development of GAS reactions in the dairy cow. These enable the cow to create and maintain homeostasis of its integrated 3 main physio-pathological systems and thus to endure the stressor(s). The cow's compensating adjustments to a stressor are therefore the effects of stress. This means that natural lactation is the effect of the lactation stress induced by the cow's progeny (i.e. the natural lactation stressor). Artificial lactation stressors (e.g. removal of milk by hand and machine) may affect the lactation stress in magnitude but not necessarily in nature. Likewise, a range of behavioural, physiological, lactational and lacteal changes related to other stressors are the effects of different types of stress. Lactation stress, like other types of stress, shows 3 stages of development, i.e., an overcompensating alarm phase (= lactogenesis), resistance phase (= galactopoiesis) and exhaustion phase (= regression). They facilitate adjustments of the cow's homeostasis from the level of involutional homeostasis (= no lactational activity) to that of lactational homeostasis. Like other tissues in a state of stress, the lactating mammary epithelium requires a greatly increased supply of glucose.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 400 WORDS)
pmid:3911132 fatcat:pjuijila4vakjdnttv4blx7j3e