Dairylink Ireland farmers with autumn-calving cows have experienced few problems with transition cows so far this year.

Cows are being monitored for ketosis using a milk ketone testing kit.

The metabolic disorder occurs in early lactation cows as a result of a severe negative energy balance and can lead to issues with metritis, impaired fertility and reduced milk yields.

Similar to other health issues, such as milk fever, ketosis can occur sub-clinically, meaning the symptoms are not readily observable, but underlying issues can have an impact on cow performance.

Milk samples

Milk samples are taken from cows that are calved over the previous two weeks and added to a test strip.

The colour change on the strip gives an indication of milk ketone bodies, known BHB concentration.

Values over 200 indicate that the cow is suffering from sub-clinical or clinical ketosis.

“Samples taken at three autumn-calving Dairylink farms to date have all tested between 50 and 100. This suggests that feed intakes in the herds approaching calving and after calving are on target,” said Dairylink adviser Aidan Cushnahan.