Preventing milk fever relapse

1 July 2016

Poor weather, a bad calving or simply not eating enough grass can all cause a cow to go down with milk fever – a common affliction around calving and early lactation.

Initial treatment with injectable calcium solution is typically fast and immediately effective; however the chance of relapse remains a risk. Following up an injectable treatment with oral supplementation has been shown to help guard against this and aid a return to health and milk production.

Studies have shown 30-35% of cows initially treated with intravenous calcium will relapse if not given supplementary oral calcium.

This number can be even higher in older cows. Using oral calcium after initial intravenous treatment can prevent a recurrence by up to 60%.1,2,3

Treatment Plan: To help avoid a relapse and give the cow the best chance of returning to health and production, consider this three-step treatment regime to provide a sustained supply of calcium, minerals and energy.

1. Injectable calcium solution administered into the vein and/or under the skin.*

Administration into the vein acts quickly and gets the cow up and walking again, often within several minutes. However, because this method of administration is quickly utilised by the body, treatment is often supplemented with a bag under the skin.

Administration under the skin takes comparatively longer to absorb, giving the cow a more sustained supply of calcium over the next few hours.

Using these two routes of administration together as your first line of treatment will provide both rapid calcium replacement and a slow release of calcium.

Suitable products: CBG 37.5, Glucalmag, Glucalmax, Glucalphos.

*Please remember that you do need to take special care to check that the bag you are using is suitable for the intended route of delivery. While most injectable metabolic solutions in the range are suitable for administration both into the vein and under the skin, some are not.

2. Follow-on treatment with oral calcium

Once the cow is up and walking after initial treatment and has regained enough muscle control to swallow normally, orally administered calcium (Oral-Cal) or oral calcium with added energy (Oral-Max) can provide sustained support to help prevent relapse.

Administer one bottle of oral calcium (Oral-Cal or Oral-Max) as soon as the cow is standing and swallowing normally. Repeat with the same dose 10 to 12 hours later.

3. Provide an energy boost

Finally, administer propylene glycol (Ketol) for an essential energy boost, quicker metabolic recovery and a positive influence on the post-calving energy gap. Give 240mL twice daily as a drench, or mix in the drinking water or feed.

As part of a complete and balanced range, Bayer offers oral calcium and energy treatments to help guard against relapse.

For more information on these products or advice on treating metabolic conditions, visit your local Fonterra Farm Source store.

1 Jonsgard K, Odegaard SA & Overby I. 1971. Supplement of calcium gel by mouth in addition to treatment with calcium by vein in paresis puerperalis in cows. The Obstetrics Institute of the Veterinary University, Norway. Nord. Vet – Med: (23) 606-619

2 Rajala PJ, Grohn YT: Disease occurance and risk factors analysis in Finnish Ayshire cows. J. Dairy Sci. 1998, 81, 3172-3151.

3 Thilsing-hansen T, Jorgensen RJ, Ostergaard S: Milk fever control principals: A review. Actc vet. Scand. 2002, 43, 1-19.

Article supplied by Bayer New Zealand Ltd