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J Dairy Sci. 2012 May;95(5):2505-12. doi: 10.3168/jds.2011-4908.

A field trial on the effect of propylene glycol on displaced abomasum, removal from herd, and reproduction in fresh cows diagnosed with subclinical ketosis.

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Department of Population Medicine and Diagnostic Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14853, USA.


The purpose was to determine the effect of oral propylene glycol (PG) administration in fresh cows diagnosed with subclinical ketosis (SCK). Measured outcomes were development of displaced abomasum (DA) and removal from herd in the first 30 d in milk (DIM), conception to first service, and time to conception within 150 DIM. Cows from 4 freestall dairy herds (2 in New York and 2 in Wisconsin) were each tested 6 times for SCK from 3 to 16 DIM on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays using the Precision Xtra meter (Abbott Laboratories, Abbott Park, IL). Subclinical ketosis was defined as a blood β-hydroxybutyrate concentration of 1.2 to 2.9 mmol/L. Cows with SCK were randomized to treatment group (oral PG) or untreated control group (no PG); treatment cows were orally drenched with 300 mL of PG once daily from the day they tested 1.2 to 2.9 mmol/L until the day they tested <1.2 mmol/L. Mixed effects multivariable Poisson regression was used to assess the effect of PG on DA, removal from herd, and conception to first service; a semiparametric proportional hazards model was used to evaluate the days-to-conception outcome. A total of 741 of 1,717 (43.2%) eligible enrolled cows had at least 1 β-hydroxybutyrate test of 1.2 to 2.9 mmol/L. Of these, 372 were assigned to the PG treatment group and 369 to the control group. Thirty-nine cows (5.3%) developed a DA after testing positive for SCK and 30 cows (4.0%) died or were sold within the first 30 DIM. Based on risk ratios, control cows were 1.6 times more likely [95% confidence interval (CI)=1.3 to 2.0] to develop a DA and 2.1 times more likely (95% CI=1.2 to 3.6) to die or be sold than cows treated with PG. In addition, PG-treated cows were 1.3 times more likely (risk ratio 95% CI=1.1 to 1.5) to conceive at first insemination than control cows in 3 of the herds. No difference was observed in days to conception within 150 DIM between treatment groups (hazard ratio for PG cows=1.1, 95% CI=0.8 to 1.4), with a median time to conception of 100 d (95% CI=93 to 111) and 104 d (95% CI=95 to 114) for PG-treated and control cows, respectively. These results show that intensive detection of SCK, followed by treatment of positive cows with oral PG decreased the risk of developing a DA or leaving the herd within the first 30 DIM and increased the risk of conception to first service.

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