Subclinical ketosis

Subclinical ketosis (SCK) is an important condition of dairy cows during the transition period.

It is defined as increased blood concentration of ß-hydroxybutyrate (BHBA) without any clinical signs. 29

The most commonly used blood BHBA threshold to diagnose SCK in individual cows is between 1.2 to 1.4 mmol/L. 24, 29, 31, 33, 34

Prevalence of SCK varies between 10.2 and 43.2 % within the first three weeks of lactation.24, 35, 36, 37, 38

SCK is associated with

  • increased risk of postpartum diseases (Table 1)
  • decreased milk yields 36, 37
  • impaired fertility (e.g. low first service conception rates) 39
Blood BHBA concentration[mmol/L] Disease Time p.p. Increased risk (odds ratio)
≥ 1.2 Displaced abomasum (DA) 1st week 2.6 36
≥ 1.0 Displaced abomasum (DA) days 3 - 14 6.9 41
≥ 1.2 Metritis 1st week 3.4 36
≥ 1.0 Metritis days 3 - 14 2.3 41
≥ 1.0 Clinical ketosis days 3 - 14 4.9 41

The economic impact of SCK is significant.

* see also our references page

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