Managing milk fever
CLINICAL AND SUBCLINICAL MILK FEVER TO A LARGE EXTENT CAN BE PREVENTED THROUGH TRANSITION COW DIETARY MANAGEMENT AND NUTRITION
- Plan dry cow forages in advance.
- Aim for lowest possible potassium in the diet of cows within 3 weeks of calving; this influences the incidence of milk fever.
- Minimise/ eliminate application of dung – it is high in K (potassium).
- Use straight nitrogen fertiliser on dry cow silage/grazing fields.
- Later cuts are generally lower in potassium.
- Keep grazing tight – tops of stems have more potassium than the bottom.
- Calve cows down in the right body condition (BCS 2.75). Fat cows are more likely to get milk fever… and have calving difficulties, ketosis, etc.
- Ensure that there is a good magnesium supply to dry cows (involved in calcium absorption); this usually means either a mineralised dry cow roll or specific dry cow mineral.
- Feeding small amounts of certain salts such as magnesium or ammonium chloride
or can also help to reduce risk – speak to your vet or nutritionist.
HOWEVER, THERE ARE FREQUENTLY SITUATIONS IN HERDS OR INDIVIDUAL COWS WHERE THERE IS AN INCREASED RISK OF MILK FEVER
- Older cows.
- High yielding.
- Previous case of milk fever in the cow/herd.
Supplementation with oral calcium such as Bovikalc® boluses helps to reduce the risk of milk fever and subclinical hypocalcaemia..