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Kemin’s Solutions To Metabolic Disorders During Calving

A crucial time in the 'dry’ period of a cow — a phase in the lactation cycle — is the last three weeks before calving and is also known as the ‘close-up’ period.

During this time, cows prepare for their next lactation. However, without adequate nutrition, cows can calve in and fade quickly, causing a loss of potential income for farms.

At Kemin, we believe in paying significant attention to this close-up period as it sets the stage for how well cows perform in their next lactation. We believe that by doing so we can tackle hypocalcemia, and in particular, subclinical hypocalcemia (SCH), which is known to be a key issue affecting calving.

To tackle these challenges, we’ve developed the Formulating Ruminant Health Program —  a Lifelong Learning Program that turns metabolic challenges into accurate solutions and implementation.

As part of this program, we provide a range of services to meet your needs within the following 3 areas:

  1. Formulation evaluation and validation for optimal implementation
  2. Technical assistance
  3. Customer laboratory and application solutions.
Kemin’s Solutions To Metabolic Disorders During Calving

 Subclinical metabolic disorders like subclinical hypocalcemia (SCH) have become an important focus in livestock management. These disorders are associated with an increased risk of periparturient problems that have long-term consequences for production, reproduction, and survival. Research findings demonstrate that cows are more susceptible to hypocalcemia as the lactation number increases.

More specifically, a recent study in Germany found that 48% of multiparous cows suffered from  subclinical hypocalcemia. 

Moreover, it’s important to know that subclinical hypocalcemia has effects beyond milk fever. It decreases rumen contraction, rumination, dry matter intake, and neutrophil functions of the dairy cow. It also increases the incidences of metritis, retained fetal membranes, therefore impacting treatment costs.

That’s why at Kemin, we believe the pre-calving cow phase, or close-up period, is a great opportunity to improve the cow’s performance after calving. 

Cationic diets have a net positive charge due to high concentrations of sodium, potassium, calcium, and magnesium. A meta-analysis of 42 randomized trials (Santosh et al., 2019) suggested that cows consuming cationic diets are more likely to suffer increased incidences of milk fever or hypocalcemia. Cationic diets are one of the strongest triggers of subclinical hypocalcemia during the close-up dry cow phase.

That’s why it’s vital to turn cows’ diets from cationic to anionic. Anionic diets have  a negative charge due to higher concentrations of chloride, sulfur, and phosphorus. This helps to:

  • Change the cow’s blood pH to a slightly more acidic level due to the increasing concentration of chloride ions;
  • Mobilize more calcium from the bones to buffer the acid in the cow’s bloodstream;
  • Achieve maximum calcium supply at the time of calving;
  • Reduce incidences of hypocalcemia that occur due to calcium deficiency.

Unfortunately, most cow diets in Europe, the Middle East, and North Africa (EMENA) region are cationic as most ingredients contain cations.