Large num­ber of milk fever cases

North East & Goulburn Murray Farmer - - LIVESTOCK -

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.

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