Background knowledge
Ketosis (acetonemia) is a disorder of carbohydrate metabolism. It usually occurs in the first weeks after calving and is caused by an energy deficit. The high energy demand caused by the onset of lactation after calving cannot be met by the slow increase in feed intake. Due to the lack of energy, the animals break down body fat and the ketone body content in the blood rises characteristically.
Development and causes
Relevant for the development of ketosis are:
  • the 6-8 weeks before calving (dry period)
  • the 10th week after calving
  • the quantity of milk
  • the amount of energy needed
  • the amount of energy actually available

Give your calves the best start with important supplementary feeds and other useful helpers in calf rearing:

Causes ketosis graphic
Preventive measures
  • Optimisation of dry stallion feeding and management (no overcrowding, generous feeding space, etc.)
  • Optimisation of transit feeding and management (no overcrowding, generous feeding space, etc.)
  • Feeding or drenching of glucoplastic substances (e.g. propylene glycol, propionate, etc.)
  • Monitoring hoof health (prerequisite for high feed intake)
Risk factors
  • Poor dry stall management
  • Non-adapted feed rations
  • High milk yield
  • Stress & disease (reduction in feed intake)

It is estimated that about 30% of all dairy cows develop subclinical ketosis in the first two weeks after calving.
Ketose Häufigkeit

Symptoms and secondary diseases
The symptoms and secondary diseases of ketosis are very varied:
  • Acetone odour of exhaled air
  • Decrease in feed intake and milk yield
  • Change in milk composition (reduced protein and increased fat content)
  • Hypoglycaemia (lowered blood glucose level)
  • Digestive disorders
  • Neurological symptoms
  • Apathy
  • Fertility problems
  • Deteriorated immune defence 

Even the subclinical form of ketosis has clear risks:
Symptoms and Consequential Diseases Ketosis Graphic