Milk fever a needless scourge for many

16th October 2013

Milk fever a needless scourge for many

As many as half of second and subsequent lactation cows suffer from sub-clinical Milk Fever in the first 24 hours post-calving, yet because this manifests itself in only 5% of clinical cases it remains one of the dairy sector’s most neglected problems.

A leading feed specialist warns that many dry cow feeding rations fail to properly prevent the condition, which results in low blood serum calcium levels and often leads to serious loss of farm-income. But the situation need not go unchecked according to Stephen Agnew, ruminant nutritionist with Belfast-based Devenish Nutrition, who claims new technology can stem the current levels of sub-clinical Milk Fever.

"A low incidence of clinical cases nearly always disguises a much greater level of the sub-clinical form, typically 50% of multiparous cows," say Mr Agnew.

"This results in reduced dry-matter intake and increased metabolic disorders such as displaced abomasums and ketosis. The toll on animal health usually gives rise to mastitis, reduced milk yields and poor reproductive performance. The drain on a typical 100-cow herd often exceeds £12,000.

"Developing strategies to make incidences of sub-clinical Milk Fever within a herd the exception rather than the norm is every bit as important as advances in genetic-potential and forage utilization. To demonstrate the dairy industry is truly on top of the problem, sub-clinical occurrence needs to be contained to single-digit percentage rates," added Mr Agnew.

He went on to say trials using a new patented technology, which provides palatable Full or Partial DCAD diets, had shown to be an effective method in reducing Milk Fever.

Branded SoyChlor and developed in the US, the product is now available in Europe and distributed by Devenish Nutrition. It functions by minimizing the negative effect on feed intake pre-calving, thus improving blood calcium levels at calving.

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