Countyline Veterinary Service

Fresh Cow Monitoring Services

The transition period is a very critical time for the dairy cow.  How she does in the pre- and post-fresh periods will set the tone for her entire lactation.  Throughout the pre- and post-fresh periods feed intake (energy) is not enough to meet energy demands from pregnancy and early milk production.  The cow mobilizes her own body fat in order to meet these energy demands.  Although this fat mobilization is normal, an excessive amount can lead to fatty liver and other metabolic diseases after she freshens.


The amount of fat mobilization can be accurately measured in the pre-fresh period by the measurement of blood nonesterified fatty acids (NEFAs) or in the post fresh period by blood ketones (BHB).  The cost and difficulty of NEFA testing makes the use of BHBs more practical on most dairy farms.


Cows with post fresh BHB between 1.2 and 2.9 mmol/L (subclinical ketosis):

  1. 10 times more likely to get a DA
  2. 10 times more likely to get clinical ketosis
  3. 10 times more likely to get metritis
  4. 2 times more likely to leave the herd in early lactation
  5. Produce 800 pounds less milk than nonketotic cows
  6. Have a decreased conception rate at first service


Subclinical ketosis can be a problem in your herd without you knowing about it.  Routine herd monitoring is critical to ensure that your transition cows are being set up for success in the post fresh period.  Please let us know if you have more questions or are interested in starting a monitoring program.