Effect of treatment with oral Ca boluses following calving on concentrations of Ca in serum in pasture-based dairy cows

Effect of treatment with oral Ca boluses following calving on concentrations of Ca in serum in pasture-based dairy cows
Peer reviewed


AIMS: To assess the effect of the administration of two oral Ca boluses on concentrations of total Ca, β-hydoxybutyrate (BHB) and non-esterified fatty acids (NEFA) in serum, and urine pH, in recently calved pasture-fed dairy cows.

METHODS: Friesian or Friesian cross Jersey cows from one dairy farm were blocked by age and randomly assigned to no treatment (control; n=14), or treatment (n=13) with two oral Ca boluses administered approximately 12 hours apart, with the first bolus being given within 14 hours of calving. Each bolus weighed 198 g and contained 43 g of Ca; 31 g of Ca from calcium chloride and 12 g of Ca from calcium sulfate. Cows were enrolled over three calendar days, and all cows were managed in one group during the 24-hour study period. Blood samples were collected at 0, 1, 2, 4, 8, 12, 13, 14, 16, 20 and 24 hours after the initial treatment. Serum from each time point was analysed for concentrations of total Ca, and from 0, 12, and 24 hours for NEFA and BHB. Urine was collected at 0, 12 and 24 hours for pH measurement and pH was categorised as <7 or ≥7. The effect of treatment on percentage change in concentrations of Ca in serum relative to 0 hours, and concentrations of NEFA, BHB and urine pH, was examined using multivariable repeated measures mixed models with cow as a random effect.

RESULTS: In the final multivariable model for percentage change in concentrations of Ca, there was an interaction between time and treatment (p=0.004), with the percentage increase being higher in treatment than control cows at 1, 2, 4, 8 and 13 hours. At 12 hours, 5/13 (41%) treated cows had a urine pH <7compared to 0/12 (0%) control cows (p<0.001), and at 24 hours 13/13 (100%) treated cows had urine pH <7 compared to 0/12 (0%) control cows (p<0.001). Over the 24- hour period, mean concentrations of NEFA or BHB in serum were similar in treated and control cows (p>0.3).

CONCLUSIONS AND CLINICAL RELEVANCE: Oral treatment with two Ca boluses increased concentrations of total Ca in serum and decreased urine pH in pasture-fed cows. This bolus has the potential to reduce the prevalence and duration of subclinical hypocalcaemia in recently calved cows.

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