Production diseases of the transition cow

Vet J. 2008 Apr;176(1):3-9. doi: 10.1016/j.tvjl.2007.12.018. Epub 2008 Mar 14.


Production diseases of the dairy cow are caused by a level of production inconsistent with nutrient intake, provision of an inadequate diet, an unsuitable environment, an inappropriate breeding policy or various combinations of these factors. Although the transition period of 3 weeks pre-calving until 3 weeks post-calving is associated with a peak incidence of production disease, the effects of these diseases on dairy cow health and productivity extend far into the following lactation. Recent advances in understanding of production diseases include the emergence of propylene glycol and rumen protected choline as the supplements of choice for preventing fatty liver and the absence of any preventative effect of increased energy density in the close-up dry period diet on this condition; the linear negative influence of dietary cation anion difference (DCAD) on the incidence of milk fever regardless of urinary pH or the target level of dietary DCAD achieved; the inflammatory response associated with subacute rumen acidosis and its effect on feed intake; an increased awareness of the potential for antioxidant status to improve immunity and health in the transition period; the development of more standardised diagnostic criteria and treatment protocols for uterine infection. A significant body of knowledge already exists which should allow for the optimal management and prevention of bovine production diseases. One of the important challenges facing the dairy industry is the development, implementation and economic assessment of practical, integrated, blueprints of best practice for prevention of the production diseases and other diseases of the dairy cow.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animal Nutritional Physiological Phenomena / physiology*
  • Animal Welfare
  • Animals
  • Breeding
  • Cattle / physiology*
  • Cattle Diseases / prevention & control*
  • Dairying / methods*
  • Female
  • Lactation / physiology*
  • Postpartum Period
  • Pregnancy
  • Rumen / metabolism