Metabolic disorders

Metabolic disorders can be prevalent at calving time and early lactation. They are primarily caused by poor nutritional/transition management. One metabolic problem often leads to another, resulting in reduced milk yields, fertility problems and even death.

  • Milk fever – hypocalcaemia is caused by a deficiency of calcium usually around the time of calving and can be more prevalent in over conditioned cows. It can be controlled by feeding a diet low in potassium and high in anionic salts which stimulates increased calcium absorption and metabolism.
  • Retained placenta – incidents of RP is increased by calving difficulty, early intervention, poor hygiene, sub - clinical milk fever and dehydration.
  • Ketosis – the excess mobilisation of body fat in the absence of adequate blood glucose can cause liver steatosis and the production of ketone bodies giving the classic pear drop or acetone smell. It can be solved by reducing negative energy balance and feeding more blood glucose drivers.
  • LDA – left displaced abomasum occurs when reduced rumen fill and muscle tone allows the repositioning of abomasum to the left. It can be prevented by maintaining good rumen fill and muscle tone throughout the pre calving period and by employing a fresh cow policy.
  • Fatty liver – liver steatosis is caused when cows in negative energy balance mobilise excess body fats which the liver cannot export, and instead triglyceride fats are stored in the liver. Fatty liver can  be avoided by good dry cow and fresh cow management which stimulates increased dry matter intake and reduces negative energy balance.