Large number of milk fever cases
MANSFIELD producers are being warned to be on the look-out for symptoms of milk fever in lactating cows.
One of Mansfield’s large animal clinics, Delatite Veterinary Services, said the number of reported cases was unusually high for this time of year.
“We have had a lot of call outs for milk fever, and that’s indicative of the season,” Delatite Veterinary Services’ Dr Lexie Leonard said.
“It typically presents in cows that are grazing on short green grass – and with the colder weather this year, there have been a lot of cases.”
Milk fever is most common in lactating cows for up to six months after calving.
The disease is caused by a calcium deficiency.
Around 80 per cent of cases occur within one day of calving, because milk and colostrum production drain calcium.
Older cows are more susceptible.
Most typically, symptoms include: dopey behaviour; muscle tremors; bloat; lying down, unable to get up; and
contracting muscles, particularly in the neck.
“Because it often occurs around the time of calving, milk fever can be mistaken for calving paralysis,” Dr Leonard said.
“Unless you know what you are looking at, and know exactly what to do, your best bet is always just to ring your vet; otherwise you risk losing the cow.”
From the onset of milk fever symptoms, there is a 48-hour window for treatment.
“The quicker you can get to the cow, the better the prognosis,” Dr Leonard said.
Just last week, Bruce McCormack found an eight year old cow down in his paddock at Merrijig.
Severely bloated and unable to lift her head, his first thought was calving gone wrong.
“When I realised she had a fresh calf, I knew it wasn’t a calving problem,” he said.
“Because she couldn’t move at all, my next thought was milk fever – particularly because of the season we have had and the lack of early spring growth.”
Milk fever is treated with a special four-in-one combined mineral supplement – available over the counter at any local veterinary supplies store.
FEVER: This Angus cow made a full recovery after being down with milk fever for more than 24 hours.