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MILK FEVER IN DAIRY COWS: A SYSTEMATIC REVIEW
Milk fever (parturient paresis) is an important metabolic disorder of dairy cattle around the time of calving. Because of the high volume of milk produced during this time and subsequent demand for calcium, these cows often develop hypocalcaemia, or abnormally low levels of calcium in the blood nutritional imbalances, deficiencies, or erratic management of feeding programs for dairy cows can create large numbers and various types of health problems generally categorized as metabolic diseases. High producing dairy cows are the most susceptible to metabolic diseases during the periparturient period. During this period the animal is tremendously challenged to maintain calcium homeostasis because of physiological and pathological factors. Those that fail can develop milk fever, a clinical disorder that is life threatening to the cow and predisposes the animal to a variety of other disorders. Since calcium is required for the release of acetylcholine at the neuromuscular junction, affected animals will begin to experience muscle weakness. As this hypocalcaemia worsens, the cow will become too weak to stand and will eventually become comatose over a matter of hours. Parturient paresis is treated intravenously with calcium borogluconate. Affected cows have an excellent prognosis if treated early and properly. However, the worse the symptoms, the worse the prognosis tends to be. Any preventive measure must be aimed at regulating calcium haemostasis and eliminating the precipitous fall in blood calcium at parturition. For assessing economic losses caused by milk fever cost of medicines, cost of additional labour utilized, loss due to reduction in milk output, cost of animal dead and culled as well as increased susceptibility of cows to other metabolic and infectious diseases should be considered. Furthermore, as the dairy profitability is determined by the biological cycles of milk production and reproduction emphasis should be given on the nutritional management of dairy cows in the dry period as well as at parturition.
Nuraddis Ibrahim and Manzoor Ahmed Kirmani
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