Rumen acidosis is the silent killer of our cows
Joep Driessen

One third of the cows is not making it in their barns. Why? Because of diseases, and one in particular.Subclinical rumen acidosis is barely visible, but will weaken your cows, leading to other diseases. In the end, this is cutting cow lives short. If we want to do something about this, we need to broaden our knowledge of feed. There’s plenty of information about feed quality available, but more knowledge of housing and management with regard to feeding is much needed.

One third of the cows is not making it. ‘Not making it’, is saying that the average productive lifetime for cows is below 3 lactations, where it can be 5 lactations. Did you know 20% of lactating heifers doesn’t make the second lactation? When we’re looking at why cows don’t go the distance, we’re quickly faced with disease numbers:

  • 50% bloody soles after calving
  • 50% subclinical milk fever
  • 30% mastitis or much more
  • 20% ketosis
  • x % subclinical rumen acidosis

Feeding timeShocking numbers and there’s plenty to say about each disease individually. But let’s look at one disease in particular: rumen acidosis. This disease is hard to recognize for farmers, but will seriously weaken the cow. It starts with nausea and by the time you catch it (or not), the other trouble has already started: mastitis, lameness, low fertility rates and so on. This is what in the end is keeping cows from happily and healthy making it to five lactations. Rumen acidosis is the silent killer of our cows.

So if you can hardly catch it in time, it is even more crucial to prevent it. For prevention farmers need a good understanding of how the rumen functions and an excellent feeding program.

The good news is, doing better on housing and management is not complicated. You just need someone to open your eyes to the challenges in your barn and show you the (often easy) fixes that are already out there. It’s the only way we can go for the big win: prevent rumen acidosis, prevent other diseases and let our cows live twice as long.



Spring 2018


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