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  • Author: Markus Zenker x
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Clinical chemistry investigations in recumbent and healthy German Holstein cows after the fifth day in milk



Recumbency is a frequent symptom occurring throughout lactation. Its cause can be related to the energy or mineral metabolism, or to trauma or infectious diseases. We compared various clinical chemistry parameters between healthy and recumbent cows and between cows with different causes of recumbency and determined if hypocalcaemia manifests in later lactation.

Material and Methods

Recumbent (n = 32) and healthy (n = 32) German Holstein cows were studied. After clinical examination, a serum sample was taken to measure the concentrations of Mg, Ca, Fe, Na, K, Pi, β-hydroxybutyrate, total bilirubin, non-esterified fatty acids (NEFA), urea, and creatinine as well as activities of alkaline phosphatase, aspartate aminotransferase (AST), creatine kinase (CK), and γ-glutamyl transferase in recumbent cows > 5 d in milk and control cows matched for age, lactation number, and pregnancy stage.


In recumbent cows, mean serum concentrations of NEFA, bilirubin, and CK were statistically higher, while those of Fe, K, and Pi were significantly lower. Parameters compared between different recumbency diagnoses showed some descriptive Fe, K, urea, and AST differences, but these were not statistically significant.


The results show that only a limited number of parameters have diagnostic besides therapeutic value. Although of minor importance in our study, hypocalcaemia should be considered a cause of recumbency, even outside the typical risk period of parturient paresis.

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