21 Sunday July 2019
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Pregnancy Toxaemia in Cattle

Pregnancy Toxaemia in Cattle

Definition and Epidemiology:

  1. Pregnancy Toxaemia (also known as fatty liver syndrome) is a form of ketosis, is the result of fetal carbohydrate or energy demand exceeding maternal supply during the last trimester of pregnancy.
  2. A disease that occurs when the breakdown products of fat, called ketones, build up in the brain and become toxic.
  3. It is commonest in fat pregnant cows – especially those bearing twins. If the fat is coming in faster than the liver can make glucose; such as when the animal has very little quality feed, the fat starts to build up in the liver,then  interferes with liver function, which makes the glucose.
  4. The liver becomes enlarged, pale and fatty, ketones build up to excessive levels in the blood, and start to affect the brain.
  5. Brain function is affected and the animal stops eating. This process is not easy to reverse.



  1. Fat beef cows pregnant with twins.
  2. Increase energy demand or decrease ability to take in nourishment (eg, lameness. Stress and oral diseases).
  3. Inadequate supplementary feeding.


Clinical symptoms:

  1. Depression and anorexia. Cows tend to isolate themselves.
  2. Their appetite is reduced or absent.
  3. Reluctant to move when disturbed close to calving, abortion or premature calving may occur in recumbent cows.
  4. Cows become recumbent between 2 days and 2 weeks before they die.
  5. A characteristic sweet acetone-like odour in their breath.



  1. Clinical signs, nutritional history.
  2. Blood and/or urine test for ketones, and post mortem findings.


Treatment and prevention:

  1. Intravenous fluid therapy (dextrose given IV 5%).
  2. Caesarean section or induction of calving.
  3. Administration of anabolic steroids.
  4. Glucose, calcium borogluconate and magnesium salt S/C or IV.
  5. Feeding of concentrate or propylene glycol (0.5-1 g/kg/day).
  6. Prevention and Control is by Good nutritional management.