Milk fever, also known as parturient hypocalcemia or parturient paresis, is a metabolic disorder that affects dairy cows after calving. The disease occurs due to a sudden decrease in the blood calcium level, which happens within 48 hours after calving. It is caused by the failure of the cow’s body to mobilize calcium reserves and by the negative calcium balance during late pregnancy.
The main symptom of milk fever is decreased ionized calcium levels in the cow’s tissue fluids, leading to weakness, stiffness, tremors, and even recumbency in severe cases. It is most common in 5 to 10-year-old cows and can be prevented through proper nutrition and management practices. To avoid future illnesses, seek veterinarian attention as soon as milk fever is detected.
Milk Fever Management in Cattle
Causes of Milk Fever Disease in Cattle
Milk fever in cattle is caused by a sudden drop in serum calcium levels below 6.5 mg/dL of blood. It occurs when the cow’s body is unable to obtain enough calcium from its feed to meet its daily requirements, particularly during the period of lactation when calcium is drained from the body in large quantities to produce colostrum.
It can result in a negative calcium balance, leading to the development of milk fever. The disease is also considered a “gateway disease” as it increases the risk of other health problems such as mastitis, ketosis, retained placenta, displaced abomasum, and uterine prolapse.
What Are the Symptoms of Milk Fever Disease?
- Onset: Usually within one to three days after calving.
- Loss of appetite: Cow may show loss of appetite and constipation.
- Restlessness: Cow may exhibit restlessness.
- No rise in temperature: No rise in body temperature is observed.
- Excitement: Initial symptoms include excitement and incoordination of movement.
- Muscular tremors: Tremors in limbs and head are commonly observed.
- Recumbency: The cow may lie in a recumbent position with her head directed towards the flank.
- Subnormal temperature: In the final stages, subnormal body temperature may occur.
- Dilated pupils: Pupils may become dilated.
- Impalpable pulse: An impalpable pulse may be observed.
- Coma: In severe cases, the cow may slip into a coma.
- Death: In extreme cases, death may occur.
It is important to note that hypocalcemia is the primary cause of these symptoms. At the same time, hypophosphatemia and variations in serum magnesium levels may also play a role.
Nutritional Strategies to Prevent Milk Fever
Preventing Milk fever in cattle can be achieved through appropriate feeding strategies during pregnancy and post-calving. Feeding strategies that increase calcium intake, providing high-calcium feed, and increasing calcium levels in the diet, can help prevent the onset of the disease. Adopting these nutritional strategies can help maintain healthy serum calcium levels and reduce the risk of Milk fever in dairy cows.
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Treatment and Control of Milk Fever Disease
Milk fever is treated with intravenous calcium borogluconate and vitamin D3 injections, which might result in a speedy recovery. To reduce milk fever, provide the cow wi