Cows with elevated BCS at calving (BCS ≥ 4.0) had elevated levels of circulating ketone bodies in plasma. They were at the highest risk of developing clinical and subclinical ketosis compared to cows classified as either a moderate or thin BCS prior to calving. Ketosis is an undesirable disease with a severe impact on animal performance and consequently on the economic wellbeing of dairies. Prevention usually is less costly than treatment associated with production losses.
Due to the increased energy demand required before calving, strategies to prevent metabolic diseases must focus on the nutritional management of the dry and transition cow. The goals of these diets are to provide all required nutrients and to adapt the rumen for future diet changes as cows advance through these lactation stages. To prevent metabolic disorders, diets must be properly formulated to accomplish this goal and to minimize DMI reduction.
Managing BCS towards the end of the previous lactation is an important management practice to minimize ketosis and other postpartum metabolic diseases.
Ralph Bruno, DVM, MPVM, Texas AgriLife Extension Service, Canyon, Texas