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Prevalence of subclinical ketosis in mainly pasture-grazed dairy cows in New Zealand in early lactation

Authors: Young L, McDougall S, Bryan MA, Compton CWR
Publication: New Zealand Veterinary Journal, Volume 62, Issue 1, pp 30-37, Jan 2014
Publisher: Taylor and Francis

Animal type: Cattle - dairy
Subject Terms: Lactation, Metabolic disease, Nutrition/metabolism, Pasture/crop, Risk assessment/factors
Article class: Scientific Article

AIMS: The main aim of this study was to describe the prevalence of primary subclinical ketosis (SCK) in mainly pasture-grazed dairy cows in three dairy-farming regions of New Zealand 7–12, and 35–40 days post-calving. A second aim was to investigate herd- and cow-level factors associated with the prevalence of SCK.

METHODS: A cross-sectional longitudinal prevalence survey was undertaken in 1,620 dairy cows from 57 herds. A random sample of cows without disease in the prior 30 days were enrolled at one farm visit within 5 days of calving, and blood samples were collected 7 and 28 days later (7–12 and 35–40 days post-calving) for measurement of beta-hydroxy butyrate (BHBA) concentrations using an electronic cow-side meter. SCK was defined as blood BHBA concentration ≥1.4 mmol/L.

RESULTS: Mean cow-level prevalence of SCK varied with interval post-calving (16.8 and 3.2% at 7–12 days and 35–40 days post-calving, respectively) and age (13.0 and 13.1% of 2-year olds and ≥8-year olds, respectively, compared to 7.2% of 3–4-year-old cows). Mean herd-level prevalence of SCK was 14.3 (min 0, max 60.0)% and 2.6 (min 0, max 24.4)% at 7–12 days and 35–40 days post-calving, respectively, and was greater in Southland (13.3%) than Waikato and Canterbury herds (6.9 and 4.7%, respectively).

CONCLUSIONS: This is the first population-based report of the prevalence of SCK in New Zealand dairy herds and demonstrates that age and interval post-calving are important risk factors determining prevalence; and that there is wide variation in prevalence between herds.

CLINICAL RELEVANCE: Subclinical ketosis may be unrecognised but common in many New Zealand dairy cows in the first 2 weeks of lactation.

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