Ketosis is a major problem in cattle production worldwide. The condition brings serious financial losses as a result of reduced milk yield, reproductive disorders and increased livestock susceptibility to infections.

Ketosis usually affects cows between the 3rd and 6th week of lactation. The condition is caused by an imbalance between the demand for energy required for milk production and the capacity to satisfy that demand with feed intake (negative energy balance). As a result of the imbalance, the animal uses up fat reserves stored in the body.

The symptoms of ketosis are sometimes difficult to notice. In the postpartum period, up to several weeks after calving, cows may develop a range of symptoms including loss of appetite, mucus in faeces, visible weight loss, reduced milk yield (3-5 kg daily), smell of acetone from the nostrils and oral cavity. The condition can also be accompanied by signs of nervous dysfunction, staggering gait, circling, bellowing, pressing forward. Considerable amounts of ketone bodies are excreted in milk and urine.

Prevention is based primarily on the proper balancing of the feed ration and the supply of feed of the highest quality and palatability. During the first weeks after calving, cows should be given additives to reduce adverse effects of negative energy balance (propylene glycol, sodium propionate, plant glycerine).

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