Metabolic diseases are closely related to nutritional behaviour during the transition period and after calving. Animals show typical symptoms, indicating a high probability of metabolic disease.
Metabolic disorders during the transition period and in the early postpartum period affect a significant number of dairy cows only during lactation, which has a negative impact on their health, welfare and productivity. Metabolic and mineral disorders such as acidosis, ketosis, left displacement of the abomasum or hypocalcemia are dangerous for the cow as well as for the profitability of milk production, increase the risk of removing or death, the cost of treatment is increased and the reproductive ability may be disturbed. Although the symptoms are characteristics, they are difficult to observe and even subtle changes in behavior may indicate the evolution of the disease before the obvious symptoms – diarrhea, raised temperature, apathy, prolonged laying. The earlier we detect a change in behavior, the more effective the treatment of the beginning of the disease will be. In most of these cases, we observe a decrease in rumination and feed intake, a decrease in daily performance and activity and an increase in lying time during the day. All parameters are closely correlated with each other and their evaluation is very useful especially at the time around the calving, with which metabolic diseases are related. And this is a key period for high production, health and reproduction of the herd. It is thanks to the high sensitivity and precise functions of the e-stado that we can avoid many diseases.
Scientists have been observing the daily feeding behavior of dairy cows for many years. The rumination time of healthy cows, is about 500 min. per day, before delivery, it drops to about 400-450 min., on the day of delivery we observe a drastic drop or complete disappearance, and after delivery a systematic increase, until the daily rumination time is again about 500 min. It is different in the case of illness or disorder.
The research of N. Soriani et al. from 2013 and 2014 shows that cows whose rumination time before delivery was lower than usual in the first days after delivery were observed a significant drop in rumination (about 450 min/day) and much more often fell ill with metabolic diseases. Those with mild metabolic disorders or good health in the postpartum period had a longer average rumination time (even more than 520 min/day) in the first 10 days after calving, which is extremely important for high production and future health. The e-stado helps to observe health in this critical period.
The daily intake of feed is closely related to rumination, if the daily intake of feed decreases, rumination decreases too. The studies show that a lower intake of dry matter of feed (from 6.7 to 14.7 kg DM) during the transition period is expressed in low intake after calving, which will have an impact on the development of metabolic diseases and lower milk production. It is estimated that an average decrease in feed intake by 1 kg will cause a decrease in milk production by 1.94 kg. With the naked eye, especially in free-stall barns, it is difficult to notice any changes in the amount of feed intake, that is why the e-stado replaces our observation and provides alerts, thanks to which the reaction will be faster. It is recommended to remember that a decrease in appetite is a frequent symptom of many diseases!
Decrease in milk production
Another symptom, however, visible a little later than the two previous ones, is a decrease in daily milk production from 4 to even 25 kg, which in turn is correlated with the amount of feed taken. Daily milk yield of the diagnosed sick cows is on average 15 kg/day less than that of healthy cows. On the other hand, a decrease in milk production can be observed 5-7 days before the diagnosis of the disease – e.g. ketosis, left displacement of the abomasum and digestive disorders. Daily yield control in combination with other e-stado functions ensures supervision over herd health and productivity.
The activity of animals, which consists of the frequency of getting up, walking and time spent lying down, is generally lower for sick cows than for healthy ones, but not in all cases. However, interestingly, cows with ketosis and left displacement of the abomasum have a higher than average activity in 8-9 days respectively before the diagnosed disorder. Later, in the more advanced stage of the disease, a decrease in activity is observed. In turn, in case of starting acidosis and hypocalcemia, daily activity decreases.
Lying time during the day (correct time from 8 to 12 hours) and its changes may indicate the beginning of the disease. This is a parameter which perfectly shows the beginning of hypocalcemia in the early postpartum period and during the first 14 days of lactation in the case of ketosis in the form of a strong increase in lying time during the day. The results of research by scientists working on cow behaviors indicate that lying time is strongly correlated with energy balance (ketosis) and blood calcium levels (hypocalcemia). Lying time and daily activity can also be an excellent indicator of starting lameness (which is sometimes caused by metabolic disorders and inadequate food intake).
Rumination time, feed intake, decrease in milk production, activity and lying time sometimes show very subtle changes that the human eye may not notice. However, the combination of all the precise data can help in a very quick diagnosis of the metabolic disease that is beginning. A quick diagnosis means shorter and more effective treatment, saving money and taking care of the health, reproduction and welfare of the animals at the peak of lactation. Monitor your health 24/7 with the e-stado, which has all the functions needed to observe changes in the behavioral parameters of dairy cows.