Sub clinical ketosis

Could this be eating away at your profits?

Mark Hosking BVSc, MBA(dist), MANZCVS
Dairy Cows 049 LRNew information and testing methods are now available that can quickly identify herd ketosis status and help you control this profit robbing disease.
Ketosis results from the excessive use of body fat and skeletal muscle to supply additional energy, most often in early lactation. Almost all cows suffer negative energy balance early lactation but the level of ketosis that develops is determined by other factors such as body condition, pre- and post calving nutrition, and other diseases such as uterine infections. Ketosis itself has multiple effects on health, production and reproduction including decreased six week in-calf rate and milk production losses.
In New Zealand in 2009, an Elanco Animal Health study of 58 herds across three dairy regions determined a ketosis prevalence of 16.8% within 7 - 12 days of calving. In 2010 a study of 15 herds showed a ketosis prevalence of 25.7% one week post calving. Overseas findings are similar.
The cost of subclinical ketosis will be dependent upon your individual herd status, but can be up to $5700 per 100 cows for a high prevalence herd. On a per case basis, the cost of a single case of sub-clinical ketosis is in the vicinity of $86 per case.
Most farmers however won’t know there is a problem, which is why these diseases are often referred to as sub-clinical. To identify ketosis within a herd we can now provide a cow-side service that can give you a first-take assessment in under an hour.
Prevention and control strategies for ketosis will generally involve reaching condition score targets prior to calving and nutrition post calving.  This is of course easier said than done, particularly when weather events can add an unknown dimension.  Rumensin® is a proven tool to assist in the prevention and control of ketosis, and its use from 3 weeks pre-calving has been shown to produce results for both ketosis and milk production.
There is plenty of evidence that Rumensin works.  A recent 857 cow study in 2012 using Rumensin in commercial Waikato herds found Rumensin treatment reduced sub clinical ketosis incidence by 17.9% and also increased the proportion of cows with steady or increasing BCS after calving by 9%.
Getting it right in transition pays substantial dividends. Don’t let subclinical ketosis be the silent robber on your farm; talk to us today for ways to assess and control this costly disease.