Ketosis in Cattle: A Costly Threat to dairy production

 Tue, 14th Mar, 2023

Ketosis is a common disease that can afflict dairy cows. In this article, we will explain what Ketosis is, the causes and the symptoms to watch out for. 

Ketosis in cattle

Ketosis is a metabolic disease that can affect dairy cows during the first few weeks after calving. It is caused by an imbalance in the metabolism of glucose and fatty acids, which leads to an accumulation of ketone bodies in the blood. Ketosis is a metabolic state in which the body burns fat for energy and not glucose from carbohydrates.

Symptoms of Ketosis

The symptoms of Ketosis in cattle are: Decreased appetite, decreased milk production, weight loss, sweet or fruity breath, lethargy / weakness, digestive disturbances (e.g. diarrhoea and bloating), increased urination and drinking.

Consequences of ketosis in cattle

The consequences of Ketosis are: decreased milk production, weight loss, reproductive problems (retained placenta and infertility) and increased susceptibility to other diseases.

Causes of ketosis

The cause of ketosis in cattle is the metabolic imbalance between glucose and fatty acid utilization. This imbalance can be caused by:

• Poor nutrition

• Stressful conditions - transportation, overcrowding, extreme weather conditions.

• Genetic - Some animals are more predisposed to ketosis.

• Negative energy balance during early lactation. This is a time when cows are consuming less feed but producing larger quantities of milk.

• Hormonal imbalances - hypothyroidism or other metabolic disorders, can increase the risk of ketosis.

Strategies to prevent Ketosis in cattle 




Image thanks to Mathias Beckmann