Hot Topic: Early Postpartum Treatment of Commercial Dairy Cows with Nonsteroidal Antiinflammatory Drugs Increases Whole-lactation Milk Yield

Previous research has shown that postpartum administration of the nonsteroidal antiinflammatory drug (NSAID) sodium salicylate can increase 305-d milk yield in older dairy cattle (parity 3 and greater). However, in this prior work, sodium salicylate was delivered to cows via the drinking water, a method that does not align well with current grouping strategies on commercial dairy farms. The objective of the current study was to replicate these results on a commercial dairy farm with a simplified treatment protocol and to compare sodium salicylate with another NSAID, meloxicam. Dairy cattle in their second lactation and greater (n=51/treatment) were alternately assigned to 1 of 3 treatments at parturition, with treatments lasting for 3d. Experimental treatments began 12 to 36 h after parturition and were (1) 1 placebo bolus on the first day and 3 consecutive daily drenches of sodium salicylate (125 g/cow per day; SAL); (2) 1 bolus of meloxicam (675 mg/cow) and 3 drenches of an equal volume of water (MEL); or (3) 1 placebo bolus and 3 drenches of water (CON). Blood samples were collected on the first day of treatment, immediately following the last day of treatment, and 7d after the last day of treatment; plasma was analyzed for glucose, β-hydroxybutyrate (BHB), free fatty acids, haptoglobin, and paraoxonase. Milk production, body condition score, reproductive status, and retention in the herd were monitored for 365 d posttreatment, and effects of treatment, parity, days in milk, and interactions were evaluated in mixed effects models. Significance was declared at P<0.05. Whole-lactation milk and protein yields were greater in NSAID-treated cows, although 305-d fat production was not affected. There was a significant interaction of treatment and parity for plasma glucose concentration; MEL increased plasma glucose concentrations compared with CON and SAL in older cows. Sodium salicylate decreased plasma BHB concentration compared with MEL at 7d posttreatment, although no difference was detected immediately following treatment. Haptoglobin concentrations were elevated in SAL cows compared with CON. There was a tendency for CON cows to be removed from the herd more quickly than MEL cows (42 vs. 26% at 365 d posttreatment). Body condition score, concentrations of plasma free fatty acids and paraoxonase, and time to pregnancy were not affected by treatment. These results indicate that NSAID administration in postpartumcows has the potential to be a viable way to improve productivity and potentially longevity in commercial dairies, although further research is necessary to optimize recommendations for producers.