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Vet Cows Carlisle


What is it?

  • Caused by an energy deficit or low blood sugar in cows, leading to mobilisation of excess body fat in severe cases. However the body cannot convert this into energy therefore ketone bodies are produced in excess which can then lead to ketosis.
  • Most common in dairy cattle
  • In dairy cattle, this happens moreso in early lactation, whereas in beef cattle this happens more commonly in late lactation

Clinical Signs:

  • Reduced appetite
  • Lethargy/depression
  • Strange odour (pear drop smell) in mouth & urine
  • Milk drop
  • Increase of other illnesses/conditions (such as a displaced abomasum, mastitis)
  • Poor fertility
  • Weight loss
  • Dull coat
  • Fever

More severe cases:

  • Abnormal licking/chewing
  • Incoordination
  • Aggression
  • Excessive salivation
  • Other nervous signs (such as circling)


  • Adequate nutrition, feeding and management practices
  • Providing supplementary feed in times of feed deficiency e.g. drought
  • Supplementing susceptible cows e.g. with propylene glycol after calving or using Kextone bolus – please speak to a vet regarding appropriate protocols
  • Body condition scoring
  • Providing plenty of trough space
  • Avoid rapid diet changes
  • Good quality forages


  • Increase the energy content of the diet
  • Oral drench with propylene glycol or another energy source
  • Some particular cases require further treatment or action such as multivitamin and/or steroid injections, and other metabolic treatments such as calcium – please speak to a vet
  • Any other complications will also need attention, so please speak to a vet