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J Dairy Sci. 1997 May;80(5):1005-28.

Bovine acidosis: implications on laminitis.

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Agway Research Center Research and Development, Tully, NY 13159, USA.


Bovine lactic acidosis syndrome is associated with large increases of lactic acid in the rumen, which result from diets that are high in ruminally available carbohydrates, or forage that is low in effective fiber, or both. The syndrome involves two separate anatomical areas, the gastrointestinal tract and body fluids, and is related to the rate and extent of lactic acid production, utilization, and absorption. Clinical manifestations range from loss of appetite to death. Lactic acid accumulates in the rumen when the bacteria that synthesize lactic acid outnumber those that utilize lactic acid. The systemic impact of acidosis may have several physiological implications, including laminitis, a diffuse aseptic inflammation of the laminae (corium). Although a nutritional basis for the disease exists, etiology includes a multitude of interactive factors, such as metabolic and digestive disorders, postpartum stress, and localized trauma, which lead to the release of vasoactive substances that trigger mechanisms that cause degenerative changes in the foot. The severity of laminitis is related to the frequency, intensity, and duration of systemic acidotic insults on the mechanisms responsible for the release of vasoactive substance. The critical link between acidosis and laminitis appears to be associated with a persistent hypoperfusion, which results in ischemia in the digit. Management of acidosis is critical in preventing laminitis. High producing dairy herds attempting to maximize energy intake are continually confronted with subclinical acidosis and laminitis. Management of feeding and husbandry practices can be implemented to reduce incidence of disease.

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