(ruminal lactic acidosis, grain overload, barley
Acidosis results from the
sudden unaccustomed ingestion of large quantities of
carbohydrate-rich feeds, typically grain or concentrates and, much
less commonly, potatoes and by-products such as bread and bakery
The smaller the
particle size, for example following milling, the more quickly
fermentation occurs, and the more severe the clinical signs for a
given amount ingested.
ingestion of large quantities of carbohydrate-rich
Typically grain or
escape and gain access to feed stores causing barley
The severity of clinical
signs depends upon the amount of grain ingested, whether the grain
was rolled or whole and the rate of introduction of the dietary
change. Colic signs may be observed soon after grain engorgement
and cattle appear restless. Cattle are weak and may fall and
experience difficulty rising. Tooth grinding is frequently heard.
Cattle have a distended abdomen due to the enlarged static rumen;
fluid also becomes sequestered within the intestines. There may be
no diarrhoea for the first 12 to 24 hours after carbohydrate
ingestion, thereafter there is profuse diarrhoea with a sweet-sour
odour and may contain whole grains. The most severely affected
cattle become recumbent and may die within 24-48 hours. Cattle that
recover have a protracted convalescence.
There is profuse
diarrhoea with a sweet-sour odour and may contain whole
Cattle are weak
and experience difficulty rising.
severely affected cattle become recumbent and may die within 24-48
Weak and may fall and
experience difficulty rising
No diarrhoea for the first
12 to 24 hours
Thereafter there is profuse
very fluid, foetid diarrhoea
Sweet-sour odour and may
contain whole grains
Recumbency and death within
24-48 hours in severe cases
Your veterinary surgeon may
Diagnosis is based upon the
history and clinical findings, particularly once diarrhoea is
In most situations therapy is
restricted to oral fluids, intravenous multivitamin preparations
and antibiotic therapy. Proprietary antacid products (such as
Agger's antacid) contain 220 g sodium bicarbonate, 110g magnesium
oxide and 40 g yeast cell extract diluted in 20 litres for a
Penicillin injections are
given daily for up to 10 days in severely affected cattle to
counter potential bacterial spread via the bloodstream.
must be gradually increased over a minimum of six weeks before
ad-libitum feeding. Allow more than 10 per cent good
quality roughage in the diet.
Barley straw as
roughage and bedding.
the best straw; the remainder acts as
Fatty Liver Syndrome
This term is used to describe
the mobilisation of fat that frequently occurs around calving and
during the first month of lactation in high-yielding dairy cows.
This is thought to be a "normal" occurrence in high-yielding dairy
cattle, which may have up to 20% fat in the liver in the immediate
peri-parturient period (normal cow has less than 5%). However, if
the negative energy balance is severe and prolonged, then more than
20% fat may be deposited in the liver which can interfere with
liver function and result in exacerbation of energy problems and
the development of acetonaemia. This may lead to fat cow
barley straw to dry cow ration to promote rumen
Fat dry cows (body condition
score>4.0) lose too much body condition too rapidly during early
lactation. Appetite is greatly reduced which further aggravates fat
mobilisation and deposition within the liver, heart, and kidneys.
Milk yield is greatly reduced. There is an increased prevalence of
milk fever and clinical acetonaemia which may be refractory to
conventional therapy. The incidence of toxic mastitis and retained
foetal membranes/metritis is also increased. The mortality rate of
clinical cases is high.
Fat dry cows (body
Increased prevalence of
milk fever - poor treatment response
Increased prevalence of
acetonaemia - poor treatment response
More toxic mastitis
More cows with retained
There is an
increased prevalence of milk fever
Cows with fatty liver
are more prone to toxic mastitis
There is an
increased prevalence of retained placenta and
Diagnosis is based upon
history and clinical signs, in particular poor response to standard
treatments for metabolic diseases such as ketosis. Typically, there
is a large difference in body condition scores between dry cows and
those cows calved one to two months.
Dairy cow calved
six weeks which has lost a great deal of condition since
There is biochemical evidence
of severe negative energy balance during early lactation. Liver
enzyme and bilirubin concentrations are greatly increased. Necropsy
findings include extensive fatty infiltration of the liver which is
grossly enlarged, pale, with rounded borders. There is increased
fat infiltration of the kidneys and heart.
findings include extensive fatty infiltration of the
Large difference in body
Severe negative energy
balance during early lactation
infiltration of the liver at necropsy
Symptomatic treatment may be
attempted to enhance energy metabolism and promote liver function.
Oral administration of glucose precursors such as propylene glycol
(150g) or glycerine should be given twice daily by drench.
Glucocorticoid therapy such as dexamethasone, stimulates glucose
production and depresses milk yield thereby reducing energy
requirements. Other therapies include vitamin B12
essential for the metabolism of propionate, and multivitamin
Euthanasia may be the best
option for advanced cases which are recumbent.
Correct dry cow management
whereby cows calve in body condition score 2.5 - 3.0 avoiding
excessive body condition. Review transitional cow management in the
late dry period and ensure provision of suitable ration to cows in
late dry period/early lactation including good quality forage.
Maximise dry matter intake in the late dry period/early lactation.
Ensure that protein and energy supply in the diet is
overcrowding and stress particularly in recently-calved
Do not overestimate the
energy contribution from forages especially that fed to high
yielding, early lactation cows at pasture. Any dietary changes
should be made gradually. Group cows according to their nutritional
requirements. Avoid overcrowding and stress particularly in
recently-calved cows. Do not overfeed concentrates. Regularly
monitor nutritional status including body condition scoring of
cows, faecal consistency, and metabolic profiles where
overestimate the energy contribution from forages especially high
yielding early lactation cows at pasture.
Calve in body condition
score 2.5 - 3.0
Maximise dry matter intake
in transition period
Ensure that protein and
energy supply is balanced
Dietary changes should be
Group cows according to
their nutritional requirements
Avoid overcrowding and
Do not overfeed
nutritional body condition scores
Regularly monitor faecal
Metabolic profiles where
Maximise dry matter intake during transition period.