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5 Oct 2020

Digestive & metabolic disorders

Calving fever, ketosis, displaced abomasum, digestive disorder, such as vomacidosis, catarrhal abomasitis/poisoning, diarrhoea and foreign bodies are some of the most common digestive and metabolic disorders.

Generally speaking, digestive and metabolic disorders are important as they increase the risk of individual cows not being able to be started with insemination after calving and prolong the time from calving to first insemination. In the case of certain illnesses such as ketosis, calving fever and digestive disorders, the risk of not being impregnated on first insemination is increased.


Classifying the problem

If the level of digestive and metabolic disorders in a single herd exceeds 16 cases per 100 cow units, such digestive and metabolic disorders must be considered to be a significant problem.


The majority of digestive and metabolic disorders are linked to calving and the start of lactation, that are associated with big changes in the physiological requirements when it comes to feed intake and metabolism, for example. Calving fever and ketosis are metabolic disorders, where the body cannot satisfy physiological needs for calcium and glucose respectively – either because the cow's metabolism, feed or feed intake is insufficient.

On the other hand, the causes of displaced abomasum, digestive disorders, catarrhal abomasitis/poisoning and diarrhoea are primarily linked to feed and feed management, including changes in feed.

Most disorders are due to several factors at both herd and individual animal level. Some risk factors are common to several illnesses, and if a cow has had one of the disorders, she will also be at an increased risk of contracting one of the others.

Points for action plan

An optimal body condition management through the lactation and drying off period is necessary. There should be set procedures for dry cows/calf heifer management with regard to duration, comfort and monitoring. Good new calf management ensures low stocking density plus good comfort and monitoring. To ensure the best possible feed intake, feed and feed management should be reviewed for all groups.

Focus on

  • Body condition management
  • Dry cow/calf heifer management
  • New calf management
  • Feed and feed management