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USDA Technology May Reduce Milk Fever in Dairy Cows / April 16, 1998 / News from the USDA Agricultural Research Service

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USDA Technology May Reduce Milk Fever in Dairy Cows

By Linda McGraw
April 16, 1998

USDA's Agricultural Research Service has issued a license to an Iowa company for further development of a new product that could reduce milk fever in dairy cows.

Kemin Industries, Inc., of Des Moines, Iowa, has been granted an exclusive license to an ARS- patented gel that may cut milk fever in dairy cows by 50 percent. Milk fever is a metabolic disorder that usually occurs within 24 hours after cows give birth. Each year, about 500,000 U.S. dairy cows develop severe milk fever, a disease that costs producers $150 million a year.

According to ARS researchers, the gel may be given orally to cows when they give birth and for the first two days of lactation. Other oral formulations now used for treating milk fever contain calcium chloride, which is irritating to the cow's mucous membranes and to the skin of the person administering the treatment.

The ARS-formulated gel delivers calcium propionate, a less irritating form of calcium. Another advantage of calcium propionate is that cows can use it to make glucose for energy. All lactating dairy cows are energy-deficient for two reasons: They are using a large amount of glucose to make milk, and immediately after calving they can't eat enough feed to meet their energy needs.

In ARS field trials with an Iowa Jersey dairy herd, the gel reduced the incidence of milk fever from 50 percent in untreated cows to 29 percent in treated cows.

Scientific Contact: Jesse P. Goff, ARS-USDA, National Animal Disease Center, P.O. Box 70, Ames, IA 50010, phone (515) 239-8547, fax (515) 239-8458, jgoff@nadc.ars.usda.gov.

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