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Ketosis is a condition that affects recently calved and pregnant cows. Dairy cows are most at risk with the condition although it is seen in heavily pregnant beef cows ( often carrying twins or in poorer condition).

Clinical Ketosis is uncommon. The typical symptoms are milk drop, constipation, lower cudding rates progressing to nervous symptoms such as licking walls or gates.

Much more common is Sub Clinical Ketosis ( SCK) . Up to 30% of dairy cows may be affected in problem herds. Cows with SCK are mobilising fat and in energy deficit. This triggers increased risk for a wide range of diseases impacting on cow health and fertility.

Recent research of the literature by Dick Esslemont illustrates the key impacts. Dick’s presentation at BCVA can be read by clicking here.

What are the costs of Subclinical Ketosis

Various studies have been done estimating the cost of SCK . The estimated costs with the most recent studies indicate the likely average cost to be $260 per case. This will vary significantly between herds. In our experience the worst impacts of SCK are increased risks of cystic ovaries, excessive condition loss and poorer conception rates and increased DA rates. The risk of mastitis in SCK cows is doubled also. The immunity of the cow is compromised.

What causes SCK?

The commonest cause is inadequate dry matter intake pre and post calving. If cows can eat in excess of 13kg of DM pre-calving and they can rapidly consume as much food as possible post calving ( areas to consider are adequate feed space, access, quality, grouping, body condition, calving intervals, water quality etc ) then the risk is much lower. Ketosis prevention is all about keeping the rumen healthy and minimising peri-parturient diseases

How can I monitor for SCK?

We can simply test your cows 5-21 days calved using a hand held Ketometer. This delivers immediate results. We store the results on a spreadsheet together with all the other information required to generate a simple report.

How can I reduce the risks of SCK and Ketosis in my herd?

At a herd level we can help you create a transition cow management program often in conjunction with your nutritionist to help reduce the risk of SCK. How you group and manage your cows is critical. An audit of the dry and transition cow areas is a good place to start.

Are there any other treatments and prevention tools I can use?

A novel bolus ( Kexxtone) has been developed. Kexxtone boluses can be used to target high risk cows for prevention. The bolus is administered 3 weeks pre- calving and the treatment substantiveley reduces the risk of SCK in high risk cows ( twin bearing , fat, old, Johnes test positive) and can be vital tool for farmers to use to help control the impact of SCK. Cows affected can be treated although at this stage they will have incurred all the cost of the disease. Prevention is better than a cure!