Not all ketosis cases are created equal. Diagnosing the cows with either Type 1 or Type 2 makes all the difference in treatment success.
Fat versus skinny cow
Type 1 ketosis is defined as the traditional, typically clinical disease, often occurring 3 - 6 weeks after calving.
These cows run blood beta-hydroxybutyrate (BHBA) levels above 3.0 mmol per L are usually very thin.
These cows will be high producing cows that will lose quite a bit of body condition score to supply those energy equivalents for milk production.
Type 2 ketosis tends to be subclinical cases with BHBA levels between 1.2 - 3.0 mmol per L.
These cows on the other hand are often overconditioned during the dry period or at the time of calving.
Onset occurs within first 2 weeks after freshening and disease may continue to persist at that level or progress to clinical ketosis.
Treating with proper solution
Research shows that the 2 types of ketosis affect the cow's metabolism differently.
With Type 2 ketosis, blood glucose and blood insulin are already elevated.
Type 1 ketosis has low blood glucose and benefits from an extra energy boost.
Half a bottle of dextrose (250ml) is recommended in addition to 3 - 4 days of oral propylene glycol for clinical cows.
Giving full 500ml of dextrose is too much and can cause negative effects to the cows.
For subclinical cases, propylene glycol alone is preferred over dextrose as the cows already have high glucose levels.
Propylene glycol is effective because the liver must "work" in order to turn it into glucose.
This keeps the liver active and encourages the cow to rely on her own regulatory mechanisms.
Ketosis management and prevention
It is estimated that 20 - 45% of cows in US dairy herds have been affected by ketosis at some point in their lifetime. Left untreated, it can lead to some serious consequences.
Ketotic cows are 50 times more likely to leave the herd in their first 30 days in milk (DIM) and those that are not culled are more likely to suffer lower milk production and reproduction challenges.
Implementing a testing protocol to help identify sick cows early on is crucial.
It is recommended to have blood BHBA test over urine or milk tests due to its 95% accuracy and quantitative results.
It is encouraged to have frequent testing weekly and checking all fresh cows between 5 - 20 DIM at least once.
The disease has a huge impact on performance of dairy herds but the good news is it is something that can be managed and treated.
With some proactive detection and treatment, we can decrease the negative impact of ketosis.