Achieve the right balance. A cow’s ultimate balancing act – the transition period – doesn’t always play out as planned, giving way to metabolic problems. That’s when it’s time to reach for a bag or a bottle of metabolic solutions

Our range treats the main metabolic conditions and supports healthy metabolic processes to get cows back to what they do best – making milk. Have a look around our website to find out more about our metabolic range.

Metabolics – the basics

To understand why vets and farmers use metabolics, it helps to know more about New Zealand milk production and the transition period.

Dairy cows are the Olympic athletes of milk production. Over many generations, they’ve been bred to provide milk for the human diet in quantities far exceeding those required to rear a calf.

To achieve this, cows must deliver a calf annually and in New Zealand this is usually timed to occur just before spring. This is to gain maximum advantage from the availability of nutrient-rich pasture.

At this time, cows are undergoing a lot of change. Cows are transitioning from being pregnant to non-pregnant, dry (non-lactating) to milking and from a low to a high level of feed intake; the transition period.

Careful management is required to ensure they transition well. This involves ensuring cows achieve recommended body condition at the end of the previous lactation (drying off), adequate nutrition through the dry period, careful transitioning of the diet and availability of minerals at appropriate times.

Despite these efforts, many cows will still develop metabolic problems.

The hidden cost of milk fever

Milk fever is a sudden fall in the amount of calcium available in the blood. It commonly occurs within a few hours of calving due to the demands of milk production.

Cows become more susceptible as they age and have a reduced capacity for mobilising calcium from their bones. 

Clinical vs subclinical
Subclinical milk fever can affect 40% of cows calving in dairy herds, compared to 2-5%(1,2) for clinical milk fever. That means the majority of cows affected are the ones you can’t see.

The physiological effects of low calcium
Because of calcium’s role in muscle function, telltale signs of milk fever include trembling, weak, staggery movements and inability to stand (down cow). Digestive, respiratory, circulatory and milk producing processes are also affected by low calcium. All of this can pave the way to an array of other serious disorders.

Milk fever as a gateway disease
Milk fever is considered a gateway disease, meaning it can predispose the cow to other conditions, such as ketosis, mastitis and endometritis.

For example, reduced feed intake associated with milk fever leads to mobilisation of body fat to supply energy resulting in ketosis. Even subclinical milk fever reduces muscle contraction to the point that closure of the teat sphincter is affected, increasing risk of mastitis. Milk fever can also impair immunity(2) making the cow more susceptible to infectious diseases like endometritis.

Magnesium’s role in prevention.
Hypomagnesaemia results from low magnesium intakes or absorption. Clinical hypomagnesaemia (grass staggers) is a condition requiring urgent attention. Magnesium is also important for maintaining the balance of calcium; low magnesium increases the risk of milk fever and is why it often plays a part in a prevention strategy.


  1. New Zealand Veterinary Journal 49(2), 60-67, 2001
  2. The Veterinary Journal 176 (2008) 50–57


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