Abstract. Serum levels of thyroxine (T4), triiodothyronine (T3) and reverse T3 (rT3) were studied in dry, early (first trimester) and middle (second trimester) lactating purebred Holstein cows. The study encompassed three different seasons: autumn, winter and spring. Under comfortable weather conditions (temperature 22°C; relative humidity, 40%) or moderately hot (28°C; 60%), January and October, respectively, cows in early lactation exhibited significantly lower levels of T4 and T3, and higher values of rT3 than dry or middle lactating animals. In contrast, during May, when environmental temperature increased (34°C; 40%), a clear-cut shift in T3/rT3ratio occurred, and animals in early lactation exhibited the highest T3 and the lowest rT3 concentrations.
These findings suggest that in dairy cattle, peripheral thyroid hormone metabolism plays a major role in regulating the homeorhetic responses involved in the maintenance of high priority functions.