Why does Ketosis happen in spring? It doesn’t. Ketosis can happen any time of year. It is much more likely to happen after a cow calves (which is sometimes in spring). Ketosis can also happen when there is a big change in diet (like all that new grass that shows up in Spring).Ketosis is commonly caused by a metabolic change. Either what is going out has changed (like making milk) or what is going in has changed (like new Spring grass).When a cow first begins to produce milk (early lactation) there is an increase in energy requirements on her body to make milk. If she can’t make or doesn’t have enough glucose she can end up in Ketosis. The most common time to find a cow in ketosis are the first 8 weeks after calving.We have had a cow go into Ketosis 4 months after she calved instead of the normal first 8 weeks. Our particular case was caused by what was going in (her diet).
Be sure to contact your vet if you suspect you cow is sick. A simple urine or milk test can detect ketones. From there the vet can prescribe the correct treatment.
In our case the treatment was not complicated. Our cow simply needed to increase her blood glucose levels. Our vet did this with some drenching tubes and we increased the amount of grain and dry hay in her diet. Our cow responded positively and quickly.
There are several reasons your cow could end up in Ketosis. Most of them start with some other illness or a lack of dietary needs.
This is Faith. Poor, poor Faith. I had no idea I was sending her into a wobbling, shaking, stumbling case of Ketosis… But I did.
She went down. Wobbling, shaking, stumbling, couldn’t walk. Someone call the vet! The cow is down!
She was in ketosis. This is where you may want to be on the Atkins diet, but not where you want your cow.
Long story short: Our milk cow got mastitis. We needed to lower her milk production to help with the mastitis so we lowered the amount of grain we were feeding her.
The line of thought was: less grain = less milk production = less mastitis.
Our cow, Faith, was basically taken off her feed in order to help her recover from her mastitis. She went DOWN with Ketosis because of the lack of carbs in her diet.
We called the vet and thankfully, the solution was simple: Carbs.
In order to help my cows stay healthy and Ketosis free I provide dry hay in addition to pasture on a regular basis. Even when the fields are growing faster than the cows can eat it, we offer free-choice dry hay. In addition to hay we also give our cows grain.
I personally don’t think grain is bad and feel good about giving some to my cows. Right after they calve and during milking we give them grain every day.
I am personally on high alert right now. I’m watching the cows closely. We only have a couple of bales of our favorite hay left. Our cows are spoiled and LOVE the alphafa (mix) hay we get from our neighbor. We have dozens of bales of (another) hay in our barn, so the cows won’t starve, but they will not be getting their favorite hay. Anytime I change what I am feeding my cows I watch them closely to make sure everyone is adjusting nicely. If they decide to go on a hay-strike (and eat pasture only) due to the new hay, they could put themselves at risk of going into ketosis.
Hopefully, that won’t happen, but I’m on guard just in case.
I’ve already got an order in with our neighbor to get some more of that fabulous, alphafa (mix) hay back in front of our cows. Spoiled cows.
Even if you are trying to do everything right, cows can still get sick. Don’t be hard on yourself if your cow is under the weather. Just call the vet so you can get her back on her feet again. We are all learning every day.
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