Episode #160 of the Purdue “Dairy Digest” podcast series focuses on the causes and stages of hypocalcemia.

Many of the clinical signs of milk fever are related to the lack of adequate calcium in the blood that allows for proper muscle function. Milk fever typically occurs because of the sudden decrease in blood calcium associated with the high demand for calcium in colostrum production during early lactation. There are three main stages of hypocalcemia, depending on the extent of blood calcium depletion.

During the first stage, cows can stand but may have muscle tremors, ear twitching or head bobbing, accompanied by bellowing and anxious behaviors.

Stage 2 is the classical presentation in which the cow is down, but alert, with low body temperature, cold extremities and a high heart rate. Cows may also appear bloated and have decreased urine and manure production.

When the cow has progressed to the third stage, she is usually down, unresponsive, lying on her side with extreme bloating. This situation is considered an emergency and can result in death if left untreated.

While diagnosis is usually straightforward, it is important to consider other diseases such as toxic mastitis or metritis, injury or calving paralysis.

Learn more in episode #160 “Causes of Hypocalcemia (Milk Fever)” here.

Source: Purdue Dairy Digest