Milk Fever in Cattle: Causes, Signs & Treatments
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Milk fever in cattle generally happens right around the time of calving, either right before or after. Usually affects dairy cows more than beef cattle. Affects between 3-10% of dairy cow's each year with some farms having more than that. About 1 in 20 cows that come down with milk fever will die.
What is milk fever?
-A metabolic disease caused by a low blood calcium level (hypocalcemia)
-Causes a reduced productive lifespan by about 3 years
-Causes a reduction in milk production
What causes milk fever in cattle?
-Milk and colostrum production at calving drains the calcium from the blood and the cow is unable to replenish it
-High producing cows are at a higher risk
-Certain breeds are more susceptible like Jerseys
-Older cows are at a higher risk since they produce more
-Heifers are rarely affected but can come down with milk fever on occasion
-Not feeding the right ration before calving and after calving
-To much calcium in the diet causes insufficient absorption from the intestines causing milk fever
-Fat cows are at a higher risk for milk fever
Clinical signs of milk fever?
-Excitement or agitation
-Muscle tremors in the head and limbs
-Down and can't get up
-Low body temperature
-Stick their tongue out
Treatment of milk fever in cattle?
-Needs to be done asap
-Use at least 300ml of a 40% solution of calcium borogluconate or a combined mineral solution given IV
-Combined solutions contain additional nutrients for the cow that could be low
-After cows are treated don't milk for 24 hours and gradually increase amount of milk taken each milking over 2-3 days
Prevention of milk fever?
-Managing the diet
-Keep on a low calcium diet
-Allows for better calcium absorption and mobilizing body calcium
-Feed plenty of hay 1-2 weeks before calving
-Giving calcium supplements before calving and right after to be on the safe side
-Calcium borogluconate injections
Milk fever in cattle can be a very serious problem in the dairy industry. Since 80% of cases occur within one day before or after calving it is important to know the signs and get these cows treated right away. Taking preventative measures is also a very important step since 1 in 20 cows die from milk fever. Next time your cattle have milk fever one of these products.