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Your guide to cattle health around the transition period

Metabolic disorders and health issues can erase the profit potential for dairy cow farms for the year. Provita technical sales advisor George Shaw shares his thoughts.

Your guide to cattle health around the transition period

Most metabolic and infectious diseases in dairy cattle take place around calving, commonly referred to as the transition period, e.g., ketosis, displaced abomasum, mastitis etc. This is attributed primarily to dysfunctional immune responses in the animal. In addition, recent studies show that adult dairy cows experience oxidative stress (OS) around calving.

At transition, cows undergo extensive metabolic adaptation in glucose, fatty acids, and mineral metabolism to support the foetus and lactation, as well as avoiding metabolic dysfunction. Many find that the higher demands during these times, often coupled with trace element deficiencies, not only affects immunity but also the ongoing fertility status of the cow.


Provita Animal Health has developed Energy Plus – an oral liquid supplement providing instant energy. Energy Plus has been formulated with propylene glycol, glycerine, and supplies vitamin B12 and cobalt, which is needed to stimulate glucose production to help treat ketosis. Propylene glycol will increase glucose production by entering the propionate production cycle. Glycerine also stimulates glucose production by entering the glucose production chain. The combination of propylene glycol and glycerine in the Provita preparation provides an additive effect in producing high levels of glucose. Glycerine has several additional advantages:

• It enters the glucose chain at a higher level, thus providing a very rapid response

• It stimulates appetite so animals feed better

• It has a specific effect against fatty liver, which is always a hazard with ketosis.

Milk fever

At the onset of lactation, cows have a strong need for calcium and energy. A deficiency in calcium and/ or energy may lead to a number of diseases around calving, including milk fever. Provita has developed Bovical – an oral liquid supplement used just before or after calving when cows become low in calcium from the stress of pregnancy.

Bovical is particularly useful for older cows and those with a history of milk fever. It supplies readily available organically bound calcium that reaches the blood in minutes, while also ensuring long-action elevation of calcium levels for up to 12 hours. For the all-important energy that the cow needs, Bovical contains high levels of slow-release glucoplastic energy in the form of propionate and acetate. Much has been written and said over recent years about the need to manage the dry cow properly, and particularly with regards to mineral intakes during the weeks leading up to calving. Even on farms where the highest standards of dry cow management are practised, cows can still become recumbent and low blood phosphate levels can be a key contributor.

Along with calcium infusion, Provita Boviphos, with its easy-to-use bottle makes it effortless to administer to help rectify such situations. It contains phosphate salts that are readily absorbed within one hour and with added controlled release properties for a maximum of six hours. Boviphos also contains slow-release calcium, in correct mineral ratios to phosphorous, to prevent rebound episodes and assist quicker recovery.

Foot health

Lameness is one of the most common debilitating health issues for dairy cattle and at housing, risk is heightened. According to the Cattle Health and Welfare Group Report (2018), approximately 30% of dairy cattle will be affected with lameness during their lifetime. Several factors are associated with lameness in dairy cows including genetics, the environment and management. There are four types or causes that lead to most dairy lameness issues: digital dermatitis, sole bruising, sole ulcers, and white line disease.

Classical signs of digital dermatitis include raw, red, oval shaped lesions typically found on the back of the cow’s heel, but they can appear as a range of warty or scabby lesions on the skin of the foot. Outbreaks happen mostly when animals are in consistently wet and dirty conditions. Provita has developed Hoofsure Endurance footbath solution, a blend of organic acids and essential oils and Provita has conducted over 40 trials across three continents to prove its efficacy. Veterinary lameness specialist Dr Nick Bell states that Hoofsure Endurance is “the only product I’ve ever trialled that has performed as well as formalin at preventing new lesions, and I’ve trialled a lot of products”.

Hoofsure Endurance is well placed to help dairy farms get on top of and control lameness. Notable research shows it is up to 44% more effective than formalin with proven antibacterial activity. Also, with Hoofsure Endurance allowing up to 500 cow passes through a 200-litre footbath, this makes it a very cost-effective solution. The Hoofsure range also includes Konquest hoof gel and Combat hoof spray for individual hoof application.

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