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The ensuing hypoglycemia can lead to further adipose mobilization, creating a destructive spiral of events leading to fatty liver of increasing severity [ ]. Fat infiltration also impairs the ability of the liver to detoxify ammonia to urea [ ]. Ammonia decreases the ability of the liver to convert propionate to glucose [ ]. Fatty liver and type II ketosis are usually seen clinically shortly after parturition, well before peak milk production. This reflects the association with adipose sensitivity [ ]. Fat accumulation in the liver begins to occur in the last weeks of gestation, as adipose sensitivity increases.

Factors influencing adipose sensitivity and energy balance in the late dry period are important concerns in the prevention of fatty liver and type II ketosis. The previous explanations followed the processes during the flux of nutrients from the environment through the digestive tract, and processes within the intermediate metabolism on different scales. As stated above, transformation processes are influenced by countless variables on each scale. Ideally metabolism should be expressed mathematically, but this is made difficult by the fact that its elements are simultaneously both variables and functions [ ].

Metabolism is the inherent process of living organisms to obtain nutrients and energy from the feed ingested for self-referential purposes. Feed is made up of substrates proteins, carbohydrates, and fats, etc. The body can use the nutrients and the fuel right away, or it can store them in body tissues, such as body fat and muscles. A metabolic disorder occurs when abnormal chemical reactions in the body disrupt or impair the process of utilization.

When this happens, the animal might have too much of some substrates, too little of other ones, or too much and too little simultaneously so that proper function is disturbed. A metabolic disorder can develop also when some organs become diseased or do not function properly. Thus metabolic disorders can be divided to structural and functional components. A structural component is represented by the arrangement and configuration of compartments organs, tissues, cells.

Details of a structure can vary considerably between animals, e. For example, the large variation in number and form of villi in the rumen, and the condition of other semipermeable borders which have a considerable effect on the flow of nutrients between the compartments [ ], illustrate structural variability. Their effects can be regarded as dynamic constants, including blood metabolites, osmotic pressure, or pH amongst others. However, metabolic and external influences cause permanent or periodic changes in parameters of the internal environment.

Therefore, the mode of activity and parameters of results of metabolic functional systems change consecutively. Self-regulation of functional systems is the mechanism which maintains these parameters at optimal levels. Changes in the amounts and patterns of nutrients flowing through body compartments where these nutrients are degraded, synthesized, or stored, reflect the large day to day variation in nutrient availability the metabolism has to deal with.

Metabolic disorders primarily develop when discrepancies exist between what is needed to sustain a certain balance and what is supplied from various sources, and when the organism cannot cope appropriately with these discrepancies. Discrepancies are not limited to single substrates but encompass a wide range of factors and processes, including interactions between different substrates within and between different compartments on different scales. The complex systems in living organisms operate both on a level of time and of space. The hierarchy of systems or scales is introduced because it corresponds to our subjective views of a system based usually on our various discrete experimental viewpoints.


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In their famous work, Oppenheim and Putnam [ ] conceived of nature as being constituted by a hierarchy of objects that in turn, defined a hierarchy of distinct sciences. In agricultural and animal science, multiscale approaches inspired from theoretical physics have been developed in an essentially unidirectional bottom-up approach to integrate parameters at a given scale into reduced reproduction at higher scales [ ]. However, lower-scale properties are also directly coupled with properties at a higher scale. The very complexity of living systems and biological functions lies partly in the presence of these bi-directional feedbacks between the upper and lower scale.

An illustration of the hierarchical structure of living autopoietic systems is presented in Figure 1. Hierarchical structure of autopoietic living systems of different orders within an agro-ecosystem. Based on basic biological considerations by Maturana and Varela [ 1 ] concerning the characteristics of self-organizing autopoietic systems, reworked, and reformulated by Razeto-Barry [ 70 ], the vertical structure of living systems in agriculture can be also described as a hierarchy of scales. An example is provided in Figure 2 with the basic level of cells 1 ; interacting with material elements, and organizing themselves in tissues and organs 2 as superordinate systems, integrated in a whole organism 3 ; which is part of a herd 4 ; while the herd is an intermediary level between the single animal and the agro-eco-system 5.

Microbiologists would probably see the genome as the basic level [ ], while agriculturalists might extend the hierarchy of systems to far larger scales [ ]. In the current context, it is primarily important to bear in mind that each superordinate system acts as the environment for the corresponding sub-system. It is the duality of the perspectives in particular which enables a more comprehensive understanding of biological processes.

Without the whole living organism, its parts—the organs and the cells—could not exist or be sustained. Thus, the living system continuously produces the components, which constitute it by itself. Furthermore, these components steadily sustain and regenerate the superordinate system [ ]. Schematic representation of the relation between failure and preventive costs [ 6 ]. From a biological-systemic perspective, an organism is an integral and functional system in continual process of exchange with the environment. It represents an entity with a functional integrity [ ].

Maintenance of the entity is an active process of self-organization which requires resources. In striving for maintenance, external material is regulated by the living systems following to their own principles and purposes, while integrating and transforming the material within the system. This principle is valid for the single cell as well as for the organism and for the farm as an agro-ecosystem. For instance, cells adapt their own metabolism and their functional capacity to the availability of external resources surrounding the cells [ ].

To a certain degree, cells are able to perceive the availability of nutrients directly and transform this information into modified metabolic flux rates. Thus, processes are not exclusively determined by internal dispositions e. Living systems react due to the way the system is configured and adapt constantly to their environment. They select the appropriate components from the environment and give them a meaning of incentives, objects of perception, and interests [ ]. Nutrients that would enable the individual animals to meet their requirements efficiently and comprehensively on a daily basis are neither available in the wild nor in livestock farming.

Animals can rely on different metabolic pathways by which nutrient deficits or surplus can be compensated for an extended time period. Ability and skills to deal with nutrient imbalances are decisive if the animal is to succeed trying to adapt to inappropriate and varying supply conditions. Disorders and diseases can be understood as negative bodily occurrences where a part of the organism fails to perform one of its biological functions appropriately. This interpretation corresponds with the concept of biological malfunction, recently described by Saborido and Moreno [ 17 ].

In this concept, biological functions are interpreted as specific causal effects of a part or a trait that contributes to a complex web of mutual interactions, which, in turn, maintain the organization and, consequently, the part itself. Change and disturbance occur both between and on all scales. Due to a large variation in composition and ingredients of: feedstuffs, diets, daily feed intake, as well as digestive and absorbent capacities, a variable supply from the intermediate metabolism meets a variable need in nutrient and energy requirements in the various compartments of the body.

The gap between demand and supply has to be covered by regulatory processes which for their part consist of influencing factors with respect to input, partitioning, and output variables. Dairy cows differ considerably in their adaptability to nutritional changes and metabolic disturbances, particularly to NEB.

Last but not least, this is evident through large differences in prevalence and incidence of metabolic disorders despite similar environmental conditions. The reasons behind the differences in adaptability are manifold. How to evaluate the degree to which adaptation occurs in this specific situation, taking into consideration the large intra- and inter-individual variation in the nutrient flow that takes place on and between various scales, is therefore of particular interest.

This is also true for various other factors involved in the adaptation process. The large individual differences in input, partitioning, and output variables indicate a variability of metabolic processes on various scales that cannot be narrowed to a single factor but which needs to encompass the interconnectedness of variables and the nutrient flow.

Added to this is the fact that most problems which challenge organisms have a number of equivalent solutions, which can be thought of as existing in a vast neutral space [ ]. This is the case for the multiple levels of biological organization. Understanding the structure of neutral spaces is critical to understanding the robustness of biological systems and to what extent the robustness itself can evolve. A limited availability of nutrients and energy provokes severe competition between different tissues in the need for nutrients to sustain their various functions.

Limitations require partitioning, and partitioning requires prioritization in guiding the nutrient flows, and ensuring that the demands of other cells, tissues, and organs within the organism are not completely neglected [ 30 ]. Thus, there is a need to prevent ruinous competition between sub-systems, to avoid being swamped by unwanted side reactions which clog the system or parasitic reactions by single organs to the expense of other organs which may cause the whole organism to collapse.

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Nutrient prioritization in early lactation to favor milk production over fertility is a reasonable strategy in biology [ ]. As nutrition becomes scare, the lactating dam will preferentially invest the limited resources in the survival of living offspring rather than gambling on the oocyte that is yet to be ovulated, fertilized, and cared for during an entire gestation. Selection of high milk yields takes advantage of the genetically programmed readiness of the dairy cow to enter into a negative energy balance at the onset of lactation and to mobilize resources from its body tissues.

However, selection has advanced into dimensions that are far beyond the initial intention to ensure nutrient supply to the off-spring via milk. Thus, there is no basic conflict between milk production to safeguard the off-spring on the one hand and self-preservation of the dam on the other. Life-threatening conflicts occur, when the gap between demand and supply gets to the stage where metabolic regulations are at risk of failing to mobilize the bodily resources needed to compensate for the deficits between nutrient output and intake.

In case of failed regulation, the maternal ability to nourish the off-spring can be completely lost due to the death of the dam. Adaptation depends inter alia on the degree to which the individual requirements of cows are met through the structure and organization of the farm system as the individual peculiarities of dairy cows mean that they differ considerably both in their general requirements and respecting their specific performance within the lactation course.

To fulfil these demands, the farm system itself is in need of appropriate resources high quality feed, investments, labor capacity, knowledge, etc. What is needed on individual farms cannot be generalized but also depends on the specific farm system. At the same time, farmers faced with low milk prices are striving and fighting for the sustainability of their own farm system in a global market where all dairy farmers produce more or less the same commodity, thereby placing high pressure on production costs.

Intense selection for milk production has resulted in an immense priority for the high-producing dairy cow to partition energy to milk, at the cost of body reserves. This has resulted in an excessive negative energy balance NEB and high prevalence of metabolic disorders and poor reproductive performance. Thus, milk production, animal health, and reproductive performance in high-producing dairy cows generate conflicting interests.

Traits in relation to cow health have only recently been included in the selection criteria on the basis that considerable genetic diversity with respect to health and reproductive performance exists in the current population [ 67 ]. However, functional traits have a comparably low heritability thus questioning whether such approaches will bring the desired improvements in the foreseeable future.

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In the meantime, animals will continue to suffer from production diseases while milk yields will further increase and linked with the negative side effects. The preparedness of the dairy cow to enter into a negative energy balance in early lactation while mobilizing nutrients from body tissues is an essential precondition for a high milk performance in the total lactation period. Apparently, dairy cows do not possess an effective feedback loop, e. Thus, it is the responsibility of the farm management with their various organizational skills and resources to avoid overstretching the gap between demand and supply.

The crucial question is: when is the border which endangers the ability of individual animals to sustain themselves crossed? This implies that increases in milk yield achieved through genetic selection requires improving the entire availability of nutritional resources. However, not all high yielding cows are capable of achieving an adequate energy intake, especially under grass-based management systems [ ]. While energy requirements have increased more rapidly than dry matter intake DMI , the nutrient density of diets has increased simultaneously, enhancing the risk of subacute ruminal acidosis [ ].

Nutritional approaches vary enormously between farms and in many instances are failing to meet the more exacting demands on modern dairy cows [ ]. Too many farmers are still concerned about feed costs per ton when the real focus should be on feed cost per liter milk produced. Larger herds usually result in more cows managed per available staff member. Declining availability of qualified dairy staff has added concerns that cows are receiving less individual attention, which is likely to have contributed to the high level of metabolic and fertility disorders.

Dry cows are still often considered as second-class citizens or nonworking cows and thus receive little attention and poor-quality forage. Separation of dry cows into an independent group or into sub-groups is not readily practiced. Dry cows are often housed in a low-producing group [ 67 ]. Given that nearly all cows experience reduced feed intake and loss in body condition postpartum, there is a large variation between cows in the extent and duration of negative energy balance.

Because the energy balance calculation requires knowledge of feed intake and digestibility, milk composition, and weight; in farm practice, energy balance values can often not be calculated due to lack of data on these components. Correspondingly, farm management is often eager to follow general recommendations instead of trying to adjust feeding regimes to the degree of NEB and the variation between cows, as this is easier.

There is much evidence that specific measures operating under certain conditions are not necessarily effective, when compared with others in achieving the same purpose. Feeding higher-concentrate diets in close-up groups to meet increasing energy needs, is often practiced but recognized as decreasing the feed intake due to high availability of propionic acids which provokes satiety [ 73 ].

This situation can be counterproductive at a time when cows are accelerating their milk output, which accelerates lipid mobilization and results in associated negative consequences. Besides the availability of energy, the relevance of the dietary provision of metabolizable protein has been emphasized, based on strong indirect evidence backing the importance of the maintenance of maternal protein stores on long-term health, productivity, and reproduction [ ].

With the continued challenges to cows navigating the transition period, some researchers have considered altering the dry period to minimize metabolic changes. Shortening or even skipping the dry period improves dry matter intake peripartum, reduces milk production in early lactation, improves energy balance, and reduces the number of days postpartum till resumption of ovarian activity [ , ]. A recent meta-analysis of 24 studies manipulating dry period length showed lower milk production, improved energy balance, and decreased risk of ketosis, but no difference in other diseases or fertility [ ].

In a recent study by Chen et al. However, adoption of shorter dry periods has been limited because of the milk loss concerns. A way to reduce the imbalance between nutrient supply and demand in early lactation is not only to improve the first but also to temporarily decrease the latter. While most dairy cows are milked twice daily, it is not uncommon in intensive dairying systems to increase milking frequency up to four times daily to increase milk production. Reducing milking frequency is much less common. However, the overall energy balance of cows during early lactation is improved with one-daily milking [ ].

In dairying systems where an emphasis is placed on animal health rather than on milk production per cow, this practice might fit well under certain infrastructural farm conditions. This figure has been revealed as an average milk loss across 30 different international short-term studies. Production expressed as milk solids i. The increase in fat and protein content is not sufficient to compensate for the decrease in milk volume.

However, it may provide a tool to manage the metabolism and energy balance of cows during early lactation better [ ], e. Results from a study by Carbonneau et al. In other studies too, cows milked once a day showed an improvement in their metabolic profile [ 52 ] and immune function [ 59 ]. In contrast, cows subjected to an increased milking frequency were 1. One-sided selection for high milk yield is likely to produce cows that are increasingly more vulnerable to disease and poor fertility [ ].

The authors concluded from different studies that negative genetic correlations between production and fitness traits increase in less favorable environments and that selection for increased yield has decreased the adaptability of modern cows. Keeping such animals in living conditions where farmers have increasingly less time available per cow demands even higher management skills.

In situations of inferior management, unfavorable genetic correlations between milk yield and metabolic disorders are expected to be stronger than in herds with superior management. In a study allowing discrimination between the roles of genotype G , environment E e.

However, signs of severe negative energy balance, poor protein balance, and low body condition scores were not concentrated in the highest producing cows. A lower feed caloric density and extra milking had strong unfavorable effects on both energy and protein balance, and emphasize the possible effect of mismanagement on animal health risks.

Increased milking frequency increased milk yield, although only significantly when the cows received high caloric density rations. Milking the cows three times a day instead of twice significantly decreased energy balance. High genetic merit cows seem more prone to allocate resources toward high fat output in times of nutrient-deficient diets and toward high protein output with high nutrient diets. High genetic merit for milk yield seems intrinsically connected with the allocation of resources from maintenance toward milk.

In a direct comparison of low- and high-yielding genetic lines of cattle, at relatively similar levels of dry matter intake, there is no evidence of a difference in the fractional recovery of DE from intake energy or ME from DE [ ].

Similarly, no differences were found in the efficiency of ME use for milk energy. Thus, increase in productivity due to higher milk performance per cow is based primarily on the proportional reduction in nutrient resources needed to cover the demands for maintenance. In terms of maintenance requirement, the high yielding cow is more efficient as maintenance cost per unit milk is diluted [ ]. Against an industry-held view that milk output is the single most important aspect in an efficient dairy business, it is contended that producers need to refocus on factors which also affect profitability, mainly: nutrient efficiency, cow health, fertility, and longevity [ 6 , , ].

In animal nutrition, the most efficient use of nutrient resources is generally obtained when each animal is supplied with energy and nutrients according to their individual demands [ 40 ]. Both exceeding supply before calving and under-nutrition postpartum not only reduces efficiency but requires additional resources of regulation to maintain the internal processes within a certain range of homeostatic conditions [ 9 , ].

Feeding farm animals according to their current requirements regarding nutrients and energy provides the best orientation for the farmer to gain a high efficiency in the use of nutrients while simultaneously reducing the risks of metabolic disturbances. However, to meet such a goal requires additional resources, amongst others: high quality feed, good size and type of stalls, suitable amount of eating space available to the cows or ventilation systems in place, and last but not least knowledge and skills to reduce possible gaps and compensate for deficits [ 12 ].

Thus market conditions which do not provide enough income for farmers and do not fully cover the expenditure during the production process threaten not only the sustainability of the farm systems but also that of the dairy cows and their functional integrity of organs and tissues through downward causation. While farmers have to consider changes in the availability of resources, they can no longer ignore consumer concerns about animal health and welfare, and food safety.

Increasing disadvantages of the intensification process and conflicts with the interests of other stakeholders call for a critical assessment of the sustainability of dairy production [ ]. What is sustainable for agricultural systems is subject not only to system-inherent and self-referential demands but also to changes in the market. Thus, farm managers are not only agents of control but components of the agricultural system itself. In providing the essentials for remaining both competitive and sustainable, the farm management is restricted to only a few options; either to further reduce production costs per product unit or to obtain a higher selling price.

This cannot be achieved solely by addressing the milk yield of dairy cows. In fact, farmers have to take into account the cost-benefit relationships on various scales, including failure costs caused by metabolic disorders and production diseases as well as the preventive costs needed to reduce these. Expenditures for preventive measures can be seen as additional input to reduce monetary losses of disorders and diseases [ 6 ]. The higher the preventive costs, the lower the failure costs and vice versa see Figure 2. If no preventive and control measures are taken, the losses due to disease are at their maximum Lmax.

With maximum prevention, the failure costs due to disease will be at a minimal Lmin. Because the relationships between prevention and failure is not linear, there is an optimal level of control Lopt. To gain profit from reduced prevalence of production diseases, the farm management has to strive for an optimum between failure and preventive costs. Due to the various and highly varying factors involved in the development of productivity and in the development of disorders, and due to the large differences in the availability of resources mentioned above, such a balance is different for each farm system.

Furthermore, the balance varies in relation to changes in the environment of the farms, especially regarding changes in food and feed markets. It is in the nature of much-circulated general recommendations that they only marginally address the context in which the biological processes take place. Correspondingly, they may appear counterproductive, especially when they distract the farm management from looking for farm specific solutions. The latter should rely on valid data which unfortunately are often not available to the desired quality, probably because data acquisition itself is very time consuming and reflecting upon data needs much mental energy [ ].

Moreover, changes in perspectives are required to implement and assess bilateral adaptation processes, on the one hand by the animals towards their living conditions and on the other by the farm management in relation to the specific demands and limitations in the adaptation capacities of dairy cows, to the benefit of both animals and farmers.

Agricultural research and animal science as a sub-discipline deal with agricultural systems and with socio-technical and socio-economic circumstances as well as the superordinate systems which influence them. Criteria for assessing the quality of agricultural research are shaped on a problem-oriented systems research basis [ ]. This consists of the close connection between basic and applied research, the multi- and interdisciplinary character of agricultural research and the orientation of research towards the solving of issues relevant to society.

Regarding the high prevalences of metabolic disorders and associated production diseases in dairy production, agricultural science so far cannot claim to have been able to reduce health problems. Despite tremendous scientific efforts in the past, the situation has not improved adequately. Animal scientists might at least claim that without technical and scientific progress in gaining more insights and knowledge about the pathophysiological processes, the situation might have become even worse.

However, lack of success in reducing production diseases does not meet goals set by agricultural scientists and there is thus an impetus to reflect on whether the previous approaches in dealing with health problems are still appropriate to the questions on hand.

In the first instance, a reductionist approach has been employed, accumulating large quantities of detailed information with little attempt to incorporate it into a broad view of the whole subject. Thus, scientific efforts have provided a wealth of knowledge but to a large extend, this information has not been integrated into coherent biological models.

Members of animal science in particular have not done well to integrate output productivity and negative side effects with respect to animal welfare [ ]. In the meantime this has been applied to many species, including dairy cows. The pace at which transcriptomics has expanded has forced the discipline of genomics to embrace the notion of holism as far as animal function is concerned [ ]. It tries to combine omics-generated data with mathematics and computer science to gain knowledge of biological behavior of a cell in either a bottom-up or top-down direction [ ].

Recent developments in technology have paved the way for new modelling approaches at various levels of complexity [ , , ]. One of the main objectives is to be able to predict the ability of an animal to respond to the nutritional limitations that arise from the environment in which it is placed. The perspective is that of incorporating increasingly detailed descriptions of genotype via genomics, and of the downstream metabolic machinery via gene expression, proteomic and metabolomic information [ ]. As indicated by the authors, this remains a daunting task; not only due to serious methodological hurdles.

The authors also acknowledge the danger that even if all the omic information were available, it might be still too complex for the minds of scientists. Whilst generating biological information about dairy cattle through the application of genome-enabled tools is no longer a bottleneck, the biggest challenge is to interpret findings in a more biologically meaningful fashion and eventually to communicate biological knowledge systematically by linking the genome to the whole organism [ ].

While many genome-wide association studies have frequently shown that they do not explain the majority of the variation in whole-animal phenotypes, it has become clear that the relationship between the genome and the phenome is best characterized in terms of causal interdependency [ ]. Genes are often found to possess multiple functions, which are sometimes critically dependent on the context and the specificity of enhancers for promotor sequences is often surprisingly loose [ ]. Thus, even for fixed genotypes and environments, a large variability of phenotypes can occur across a population [ ].

At minimum, it is the recognition that each piece of the system has a specific function related to the outcome of the entire system, not just the subsystem in which the molecule acts. For Cornish-Bowden et al. The more complex the level at which one seeks to explain a living system, the greater the need to examine the network of interactions. The variation is increased further by the interconnectedness of the variables on different scales, organized by various forward and feedback loops. As origin, scales of time and space, control, and functional significance of fluctuations in biological systems are largely unknown, it is questionable whether the genomic approach will be able to achieve biologically meaningful aggregated phenotypic descriptions in a foreseeable time period, let alone provide a valid base for decision-making processes on a farm level.

It has become increasingly clear that understanding nutrient partitioning is central in grasping the complexity of adaptation to shortages and imbalances in nutrient supply in relation to requirements, and thus of the ability of dairy cows to cope, especially when challenged with abrupt and unforeseeable changes.

This refers not only to the nutrient partitioning within the animals but also to the level of the farm. In looking for approaches to gain knowledge in predicting nutrient partitioning in dairy cows, animal scientists often recognize the central role of the genotype. This however, leads to the question, how a valid prediction regarding the reactions of animals with a high variability in their medical history towards more or less unpredictable challenges can be obtained.

Although the degree of deficits might be comparable between cows, for instance in the extent of NEB, there are large differences in the possible reasons behind the deficits and thus in the reactions and adaptation processes of the individual animals as outlined above. In the light of metabolic disorders and production diseases, affecting more than every other cow in early lactation to a varying degree, expectations concerning success in gaining predictions on the capacities to adapt are—to formulate it cautiously—astonishing, at least from the perspective of animal nutrition and animal health.

Probabilities for successful adaptation can be at best predicted on the population level. This however, does not necessarily mean that what might be expected on the population level is valid for the corresponding farm level where adaption takes place in reality. To look beyond narrowly molecular perspectives for answers to biological questions, it is important for metabolic adaptation not just to look at the total sum of the individual parts, but how they interact, and especially if they interact successfully in preventing the animals from suffering metabolic disorders and associated production diseases.

A widespread view is that causation operates in an exclusively bottom-up way, from the microscopic to the macroscopic. Adherents of such a view often express perplexity at the idea that causation might even run in the reverse direction [ ]. In tracking the flows of causal influence that might overstress the ability of an animal to adapt and increase the risk of metabolic disorders, it should be evident that the main causalities do not occur on the cell or genome level and thus cannot be solved there.

In the first place, difficulties to adapt are due to extended and dynamic gaps between nutrient requirements and nutrient supply that already begin with the nutrient partitioning on the farm or even a larger scale. The central role of the whole organism, the genome being only a minor part, is to deal with the challenges deriving from the gaps between synchronized and tight causal coupling among the subsystems on the different scales. Correspondingly, it is the organism as a whole that succeeds or fails in adapting to nutritional change and disturbance.

Biological systems as a whole embody solutions to important biological challenges. Complex systems conveniently provide a conceptual framework and effective tools to solve problems and to decouple emergent and immergent features from molecules to organisms and back. The latter is also described as downward causation meaning the necessity for all processes at the lower level of hierarchy to act in conformity to the laws of the higher level.

This means that some macro-level constraints are expected to cascade back onto micro-levels, the macro-level being itself an emergence [ ]. Accordingly, pathological symptoms indicating disturbed adaptation to nutritional and metabolic changes cannot be reduced to a single factor but result from the complex interactions between various processes at different scales, thus expressing the present pathophysiology state of the whole organism.

Biological systems are goal-driven and above all they strive to survive and sustain. Facing a restricted availability of resources, while being confronted with extended change and disturbance, some animals are more successful than others at coping. However, animals that show competitive advantages in a specific unbalanced situation do not necessarily have an advantage in a quite different nutritional situation and might not show better results in the long run with respect to lifetime efficiency. The fact that metabolic disorders and production diseases have been occurring for a long time might suggest looking for solutions in the long run, e.

However, metabolic disorders and production diseases are an instant problem, causing suffering, and thus require shot-term reactions and counteractive measures. Metabolic problems that derive from inappropriate and unbalanced nutrient supplies cannot be solved by selections between different genotypes but can only be reduced by the farm management in the specific context and environmental conditions.

Just like milking a cow

There is a significant body of knowledge on how to provide optimal farm management and prevention of bovine metabolic disorders and production diseases. For instance, tremendous efforts have been made in animal nutrition to assess and predict nutrient requirements of cows in their various life stages and following different animal and environment related variables. However, knowledge on how to adapt requirements to each unique case does not provide information on how to deal with the intra- and inter-individual variability in both nutrient demands and nutrient supply within a herd, and how to support endangered animals in coping when facing a large gap between demand and supply.

In the light of high prevalences and incidences of metabolic disorders and production diseases, it is obvious that many farm systems do not provide adequate solutions to the apparent problems; they thus overstretch the adaptation capacities of their animals. Farm systems themselves are facing fierce competition and have to adapt to change and disturbance; amongst others in feed and food markets.

Farmers thus often lack the resources in terms of quality feed, labor time, investments, know how, etc. Partitioning of the available resources in the most efficient way is not only a challenge for the animal but also for farm management. It can be expected that farmers would be willing to invest more in animal health and welfare if they could expect a competitive advantage.

In the first place, trade-offs have to be addressed on the scale where they emerge principle of subsidiarity , following a bi-directional approach which simultaneously reflects upward and downward causation. Applied agricultural and animal science should support the farmer in striving for the goal to find an economic balance between productivity and animal health and welfare to the benefit of the animals, the farmers, and the prosperity of the common good.

This can only be obtained by the development of more comprehensive concepts and evidence based solutions which simultaneously consider a larger number of causal relationships to discover regularities beyond the scope of individual scientific disciplines. The pathophysiology of metabolic disorders and postpartum diseases is quite complex, interrelated with many processes within or outside the intermediary metabolism, they are also multifactorial and often driven by several interconnected risk factors.

In this way, it is difficult for both scientists and the farm management to grasp the complexity and make the appropriate decisions to improve the adaptation capacity of dairy cows, particularly in the transition period. Metabolic processes in early lactation are dominated by a pull effect originating from the high glucose demand of the epithelial cells in the udder and by a large variation on the various process levels.

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The capacity of the dairy cows to cope with unbalanced situations between requirements and supply is limited and often exhausted. Especially in the transition period, dairy cows face varying initial conditions e. As a result, the interconnectedness of numerous factors on different scales create a large variation in adaptation capacities and in the occurrence of metabolic disorders and production diseases both on the animal and dairy farm levels.

It is concluded that the fundamental principles of metabolism are based on network properties which are able to contribute to the adaptability of the organism and not on the properties of single components. A metabolic network is a functional union of the different organs and tissues involved, providing a responsiveness to metabolic change and disturbance as a functional unit or as a whole organism, respectively. An understanding of symbiosis implies that the inter-tissue competition becomes an insufficient explanation for metabolic function but must incorporate a wide range of very intimate modes of cooperation.

In a new perspective, the object of biological investigation becomes the process that pervades multiple levels of organization. Cells, and tissues must be understood as sub-systems within the framework of organs, and these sub-systems are embedded within broader organismal systems of interconnected and communicating structures. This represents a cooperative aspect of life and carries much importance in relation to fitness and reproduction. The ability to cope with suboptimal living conditions and a large gap between nutrient supply and demand cannot be left to the dairy cow itself.

It lies in the first place under the responsibility of the farm management to regulate nutrient and energy input as well as output to prevent the exhaustion of this adaptation capacity. On the other hand, dairy farming is a business that people engage in for financial gains. Dairy production has capitalized on the metabolic drive of the dairy cow to ensure provision of milk to the calf by selecting for increasingly higher milk production. This strategy has been very successful. Unfortunately, the goals of economic efficiency and optimal dairy cow health are often in conflict. Metabolic disorders in early lactation indicate an overstressed ability of the animals to adapt to living conditions that do not appropriately provide the specific nutrient and energy requirements.

Dairy cows will succeed more easily in adaptation and in avoiding dysfunctional processes in the transition period when the gap between nutrient and energy demands and supply is restricted. The fact that on average, one in two cows succumbs to health problems during the transition period highlights the fragility of many production systems.

From these previous considerations, it seems obvious that animals within a herd will be better able to adapt in order to survive, if appropriate resources and living conditions are offered which meet the individual requirements at the different stages to a high degree and if nutritional and other disturbances are reduced to a minimum. Any attempts to reduce prevalences of metabolic disorders and associated production diseases should rely on a continuous and comprehensive monitoring of appropriate indicators on the farm level. If low prevalences of metabolic disorders and production diseases would go along with a competitive advantage, it would support the farm management in providing appropriate living conditions.

As a first step, low prevalences for the most relevant production disease should be established as a separate production goal, continuously assessed by appropriate criteria and monitored as an emergent health output of the farm practice. Furthermore, those farms able to combine a low prevalence of production diseases with a high productive output should be rewarded by premium prices.

In the light of a lack of success in a strong reduction in the prevalence of metabolic disorders and production diseases; the deficiencies in reductionist approaches on the farm level are becoming increasingly apparent, challenging the disciplines of agricultural and animal science. Thus, scientists should ask themselves whether the focus on single aspects has contributed to promoting the tendency of oversimplification and of widely ignoring the context in which adaptation processes take place. One of the central questions should be to what degree each of the subsystems contributes to the benefit of the superordinate systems and vice versa.

The author thanks Hoischen-Taubner, K. Brand for their support and the very fruitful and comprehensive discussions we shared on this issue of metabolic disorders. National Center for Biotechnology Information , U. Journal List Animals Basel v. Animals Basel. Published online Oct 9.

Albert Sundrum. Clive J. Phillips, Academic Editor. Author information Article notes Copyright and License information Disclaimer. Received May 13; Accepted Sep This article has been cited by other articles in PMC. Abstract Simple Summary Metabolic disorders are a key problem in the transition period of dairy cows and often appear before the onset of further health problems. Abstract Metabolic disorders are a key problem in the transition period of dairy cows and often appear before the onset of further health problems. Keywords: animal science, allostasis, autopoiesis, dairy cows, downward causation, farm management, living conditions, metabolic load, production diseases.

Introduction Dairy cows with high genetic merits live under quite heterogeneous nutritional and environmental conditions. How does Adaptation Work? In the case of dairy cows, challenges to their adaptation can be differentiated as follows: -. Metabolic Disorders and Production Diseases Desirable outcomes in farm management are cows that are successful in adapting metabolically to challenges in the transition period with minimal to no disease events, reduced avoidable culls, and efficient productive and reproductive performance.

Table 1 Compiled periparturient prevalence of metabolic disorders from various published studies according to Van Saun and Sniffen [ 40 ]. Open in a separate window. Variation in Metabolism Digestion by ruminants is the net result of a sequence of processes that occur in different segments of the gastrointestinal tract GIT.

Discrepancy between Nutrient Demand and Supply The average milk yield per cow has increased considerably over the last decades, primarily as the result of genetic selection. Metabolic Adaptation For a successful transition from late pregnancy into lactation, a cow needs to carefully coordinate metabolism across multiple tissue layers to provide sufficient nutrients and energy to support productive needs.

Hierarchically Organized and Nested Systems The previous explanations followed the processes during the flux of nutrients from the environment through the digestive tract, and processes within the intermediate metabolism on different scales. Figure 1. Figure 2. Challenged Farm Management Intense selection for milk production has resulted in an immense priority for the high-producing dairy cow to partition energy to milk, at the cost of body reserves.

Challenged Agricultural Science Agricultural research and animal science as a sub-discipline deal with agricultural systems and with socio-technical and socio-economic circumstances as well as the superordinate systems which influence them. Conclusions The pathophysiology of metabolic disorders and postpartum diseases is quite complex, interrelated with many processes within or outside the intermediary metabolism, they are also multifactorial and often driven by several interconnected risk factors.

Acknowledgments The author thanks Hoischen-Taubner, K. Conflicts of Interest The author declares no conflicts of interest. References 1. Maturana H. Autopoiesis and Cognition: The Realization of the Living. Springer Netherlands; Dordrecht, The Netherlands: Piaget J. Broom D. Assessing the welfare of modified or treated animals. Wingfield J. Adrenocortical responses to stress and their modulation in free-living vertebrates.

In: McEwen B. Volume 4. Leroy J. Nutrient prioritization in dairy cows early postpartum: Mismatch between metabolism and fertility? Hogeveen H. Drackley J. Biology of dairy cows during the transition period: The final frontier? Dairy Sci. S 99 Bell A. Regulation of organic nutrient metabolism during transition from late pregnancy to early lactation.

Sordillo L. Significance of metabolic stress, lipid mobilization, and inflammation on transition cow disorders. North Am. Food Anim. Ametaj B. Metabolic disorders of dairy cattle. Mulligan F. Production diseases of the transition cow. Oetzel G. Undertaking nutritional diagnostic investigations. Herdt T.

Metabolic diseases of dairy cattle. Brand F.

Human Cow - Selling Lucy: Milking, Book 4 (Unabridged)

Focusing the meaning s of resilience: Resilience as a descriptive concept and a boundary object. Darnhofer I. Strategies of family farms to strengthen their resilience. Policy Gov. Di Paolo E. Autopoiesis, adaptivity, teleology, agency. Saborido C. Biological pathology from an organizational perspective. Allostatic load and life cycles: Implications for neuroendocrine control mechanisms.

In: Schulkin J. Allostasis, Homeostasis, and the Costs of Physiological Adaptation. Biological organisation as closure of constraints. Bernard C. Cannon W. Organization for physiological homeostasis. Ashby W. An Introduction to Cybernetics. Wiener N. The Wisdom of the Body. Selye H. Homeostasis and heterostasis. Waddington C. The basic ideas of biology. In: Waddington C. Towards a Theoretical Biology: Prolegomena. Letelier J. Varela F. Autopoiesis: The organization of living systems, its characterization and a model. Bauman D. Partitioning of nutrients during pregnancy and lactation: A review of mechanisms involving homeostasis and homeorhesis.

S 80 Mrosovsky N. Rheostasis: The Physiology of Change. Knight C. Metabolic loads to be expected from different genotypes under different systems: Metabolic stress in dairy cows. Sterling P. Allostasis: A new paradigm to explain arousal pathology. In: Fisher S. Handbook of Life Stress, Cognition and Health. McEwen B. Stress, adaptation, and disease: Allostasis and allostatic load.

Human Cow: Selling Lucy by CJ Edwards | NOOK Book (eBook) | Barnes & Noble®

New Releases. Categories: Erotic Fiction. Description The second collection of horny milking erotica stories from Charlotte Edwards: Selling Lucy: Investigative reporter Lucy bit off more than she could chew when she broke into the Science Institute and discovered Dr Felton's lucrative business; converting pretty young women into human milking cows. Captured by the security guard, she received a large dose of Formula X herself and before long her life became unimportant as long as he was milked regularly and sexually satisfied.

Now completely conditioned to her new life, it was time for her to be sold on to a new home so Dr Felton holds a cattle market. He made his first fortune by developing an innovative formula for boosting the milk yield in dairy cattle. He then built a business for procuring, treating and then selling on beautiful young girls as compliant human cows. He had done all this with the help of his lovely partner, Sally. And then he married her and things started going downhill. After yet another argument, he could see the writing on the wall.

Fortunately he had the perfect solution in his hands to keep his wife compliant, he would give her Formula X and convert his wife to human cow too. Breakout: Tough investigative reporter Lucy had her life completely overturned when she broke into the Science Institute and discovered Dr Felton's milking operation.

To keep her quiet he converted her into one of his human cows. Sold to an American farm, she was content to eat grass and be regularly milked and humped until a tornado upsets her daily routine. Extract: Cletus wasn't just well-endowed; he knew how to use what God had blessed him with. Holding the luscious young woman tightly by the hips, he began to slowly rotate his own, touching places inside Lucy that she didn't know existed.