Milk fever is a metabolic disease mainly common in pregnant cows just prior to parturition/calving when demand for calcium used in milk production exceeds the body’s ability to mobilize calcium reserves. The disease is nicknamed “falling disease” by dairy farmers (animals fall down due to weak bones thus affecting their posture).
Animals affected: Cattle, sheep and goats but more common in high milk producing dairy cows with Jersey breeds being more susceptible in dairy.
Disease category: Nutritional disease.
Causal: Low blood calcium levels.
Signs and symptoms of infection
- Animals seem normal in mild disease infection, in later stages the animals develop difficulties in standing.
- Those animals that manage to stand stagger and eventually fall.
- In advanced stage, the animals lie on their side seemingly dead with their heads twisted on the on one side and held tightly near the body.
- Muscle tremors on the head and limbs can be noticed,
- The tongue sticks outside the mouth and the stomach seem bloated (full of gas).
Disease prevention and treatment measures
- Feed animals with low calcium containing rations before and after giving birth (this will enhance animal’s body to mobilize calcium reserves in a better way).
- Treat affected animals immediately after disease diagnose, inject affected animals with intravenous solution of 40% calcium borogluconate to help the animals regain body strength and attain normal posture.
- Proper dietary management: Feed animals with high fibre-low calcium containing rations.
- Pay close attention mineral to fibre ratios prior to calving. Feed pregnant cows with plenty of hay 1-2 weeks prior to calving.
- Improve animal comfort during the pregnancy period and after parturition in order to eliminate problems that can interfere with normal appetite, as a result it triggers milk fever.
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