Send to

Choose Destination
N Z Vet J. 2001 Apr;49(2):78-80.

A novel nutritional strategy to prevent milk fever and stimulate milk production in dairy cows.

Author information

Institute of Veterinary Animal and Biomedical Sciences, Massey University, Palmerston North, New Zealand.



To assess the efficacy of a feed supplement designed to reduce the dietary availability of calcium when fed during the last 2-3 weeks of pregnancy, on the incidence of postparturient hypocalcaemia (milk fever) and on milksolids (MS) production in pasture-fed dairy cows in early lactation.


In Experiment 1, late-pregnant Holstein/Friesian cows, 4-10 years old, grazing pasture, were either fed the supplement (1 kg/cow/day) for 2-4 weeks prior to calving (n=11) or no supplement (n=10). Plasma calcium concentrations were measured immediately before and after a 20 h fast intended to induce hypocalcaemia at the end of this period, 1-7 days before the cows calved. In Experiment 2, mixed-breed dairy cows, 3-10 years old in 7 commercial dairy herds were fed the same supplement (1 kg/cow/day) for 1-3 weeks immediately prior to calving (n=565) or no supplement (n=614), and incidences of clinical milk fever and MS production at 6-9 weeks post calving were compared between groups.


In Experiment 1, plasma calcium concentrations were higher (p=0.01) in supplemented than in non-supplemented cows after fasting, indicating reduced susceptibility to fasting-induced hypocalcaemia. In Experiment 2, the incidence of milk fever was lower (6.4% vs 17.1%, p=0.001) and MS production was higher (p=0.01) in supplemented than in non-supplemented cows.


These preliminary results demonstrate that feeding a supplement designed to reduce dietary calcium availability for 2-4 weeks immediately prior to calving reduced the susceptibility of cows to fasting-induced hypocalcaemia, reduced the incidence of clinical milk fever and increased MS production in early lactation.


The concept and product reported here have potential to provide dairy farmers with a practical means to prevent hypocalcaemia and improve milk production during early lactation.

Supplemental Content

Loading ...
Support Center