Earlier research suggests ketosis costs in the neighborhood of $300 per case in treatment and lost productivity.

But that number may be an underestimate, according to new research involving more than 3,300 farms and more than 410,000 fresh cows.

KetoMonitor, a subclinical test for ketosis, was introduced nearly two years ago by AgSource. Pairing test results with individual cow DHI data, the cooperative has since analyzed records from these herds and cows.

The analysis was done looking at ketosis levels in cows fresh five to 11 days and five to 20 days. “Cows that experienced subclinical ketosis (SCK) between five and 11 days in milk typically experienced greater negative impact on lactation performance versus cows that experienced SCK a few days later,” says Robert Fourdraine, VP of research for CRI International Center for Biotechnology.

First-lactation heifers with SCK early after calving had 3.4 lb lower peak milk and average 305-day lactation averages that were 1,373 lb lower than healthy herd mates. Second and later lactation cows had 8.2 lb lower peak milk and produced 2,422 lb less than healthy herd mates.

Based on the results, previously reported monetary losses from ketosis seem to be smaller than those observed in this larger data set, says Fourdraine. The milk losses alone ranged from $235 to $410 per cow based on $17/cwt milk.

 And cows with elevated beta-hydroxybutyrate (BHBA) rates (>1.0) had higher levels of clinical ketosis, displaced abomasum and metritis. Somatic cells counts, first breeding conception rates and culling rates were also negatively affected when cows had ketosis shortly after calving.

Cows that calved with twins also had a greater chance of SCK. Second and later lactation cows calving with twins had a 60% greater risk of SCK and cows delivering stillborn calves had a 33% greater risk. As calving difficulty increased, so did the risk of SCK.

If a cow had SCK in a lactation, she was also more likely to have SCK in the subsequent lactation. Older cows had a 45% chance of SCK if they had it in the previous lactation. Heifers had about half that risk.

Finally, researchers found a seasonal pattern in the rate of subclinical ketosis, with rates creeping up in December and remaining high through spring. The lowest rates typically occur in fall.

Prevention is key, says Fourdraine. “Using the KetoMonitor management tool, producers can manage SCK,” he says. “Identifying cows at risk will allow the dairy producer to take preventative measures and minimize the impact of SCK on farm profitability and cow health.

Click here for more information on KetoMonitor. 

Note: This story appears in the February 2017 issue of Dairy Herd Management.