Monitoring the milk fat of fresh cows can be useful for assessing a cow's risk of ketosis.

The concentration of fat in milk is much higher in early lactation than later stages, says Maurice Eastridge, professor of dairy cattle nutrition at The Ohio State University.

During a presentation at the 2012 Tri-State Dairy Nutrition Conference, Eastridge discussed research that looked at using milk fat as a monitor for ketosis.

"We are generally looking for the most risk of ketosis within the first 14 days in milk," he said.

In one study, an increase in milk fat percentage by 1 unit yielded a 200 percent increase in the risk for ketosis.

Recent research by Eastridge and colleagues showed that ketotic animals had elevated milk fat at seven and 14 days in milk.

On-farm technology, such as in-line sampling, is available for monitoring the milk components of individual cows at each milking. These tools can give you a better idea of cows that are falling outside of herd baseline levels, and subsequently, may be at greater risk of developing ketosis, Eastridge said.

This information also can be valuable for reducing ketosis treatment cost and implementing preventative measures to reduce the risk of ketosis in a herd.