Prevent subclinical milk fever!

Prevent subclinical milk fever!

Prevent subclinical milk fever! Read this alarming article we translated from the Dutch magazine Boerderij.

You can prevent subclinical milk fever! Learn more in our CowSignals training and our HoofSignals training.

More than half of cows suffer from subclinical milk fever.
Michigan – Blood samples from more than 5.000 American transitional cows over a period of 2,5 years show that 55% of these animals suffers from subclinical milk fever. That is reported by bovine vet online based on a research by the Dairy Technical Specialists team of Pince Agri Products in Michigan.

De cows were regarded subclinical ill if their clood calcium concentrations were below 8,0 mg/dl. More recent research showed that cows with a concentration of 8,5 already suffer from the negative effects of subclinical milkfever. The costs of subclinical milk fever are estimated on $125,- (€100,-) while a clinical case of milk fever costs $ 300,- (€240,-).

What do you do to prevent milk fever?

Comments (9)

Make low potassium silage for the dry cows

Joep driessen

Albert is right! Good food, for example a piece of land with no dinging or only low pottasium fertiliser is a good one!
And a lot you can do in housing: resting, more, rubber on floor around calving ( 3 weeks before and 3 weeks after, stress free calving line and 85 cm feed space per dry cow and fresh cow will help!!


Bovikalc at calving

Chris Kiddle

Diluted Mag Chloride poured on to feed at a rate of 1.5 litres per cow per day. Last herd I worked on never went out lived on sand cubicles. 350 cows 10 cases of milk fever a year


This morning I found two healthy calfs circling around their mother, witch was in perfectly health. Even twin calfs are born here without any human intervention. Sinds we built a new drycow barn where the cows are kept on strow with a lot of space, we don't have any problems anymore. Dry cows are fed on a dieet of straw, 7 kilos drymatter cornsilage and 1-2 kilos concentrate, depending of their body score. Two weeks before calving I give them onethird of the ration of the cows in lactating. No special minerals. Most of the cows calf without oedema and little colostrum. I think that rest, space and a good bodyscore (3-3.5) fot the dry cows are the keys to healthy and longliving cows.

Dusan Korinek

The basis of the welfare of animals before calving and set correctly ration. It is good if it is orgranizačně possible to observe three-week prep period with another ration (low calcium or acidic salts or high magnesium). Also in this period has a lower nitrogen content (than the full lactation) in ration NDF and the corresponding content.

Mohammad Alkhateeb

As Loren said, Bovikalc at calving, or Ca Pidiolina, but before calving using anionic salts is a good practice, avoid high Ca, K, diets, cows with previous case history of milk fever should be watched carefully.

Anouk Brinkhoff

Thanks for all the responses!
Best solution is : let the cows eat !!! Easy eating till the day before calving and direct fresh food on the day of calving (preferably on, or next to the calf?) will prevent subclinical milkfever.
Both suggestions (bovikalc at calving and Diluted Mag Chloride poured on to feed) are also possible.
Essential is a well calculated ration with very low potassium!!! And 85 cm feed space for all the dry cows, and very easy access so they can eat as a group.
Excellent hoof trim and footbath program also for dry cows and preg heifers…

Please check our video learning: full of very practical tips… HoofSignals and CowSignals.


We can solve a problem and prevent it, if we know what cause it. Milk fever is caused by a reduction in blood calcium levels which cause muscle weakness. So, the key of preventing milk fever, is to prevent the reduction in blood calcium and there are many feeding strategies to achieve it, but the ideal one, is to give to a dairy animal nutritionist( if we don't know) formulating the ration and to balance the DCAB (meQ/Kg) for 'close up' dry cow diet ( -100-150 meQ/Kg). Urine pH is an accurate indicator of the body's pH so using simple test papers you can see if the dry cow ration is actually doing what it is supposed to do. A urine pH of less than 7.0 indicates that there is a metabolic acidosis in the cow but it really needs to be around 6.0 to 6.5 to produce the best protection against milk fever. Remember milk fever is only the start of the problem.

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