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Milk Fever or Parturient Paresis

Usually it develops due to deficiency of Calcium in serum. Whenever there is less Calcium there is loss of normal body tone and muscles become flaccid. It happens in high producing animals.


  • Inability to absorb Calcium from intestine e.g. in severe inflammation of intestine

  • Unavailability of ionized calcium ions in serum

  • Excessive secretion of calcium in colostrum

  • Deficiency of thyroid hormone which helps in calcium reabsorption from bone

  • If calcitonin level is increased in body then it binds ionic calcium and makes it unavailable for body for normal functioning.

  • Aminoglycosides like kenamycin etc. bind the calcium when given through intravascular rout. EDTA and oxytetracyclin also bind the calcium. So we should not use these drugs during pregnancy, parturition and lactation.

  • 20-30 % of cows are prone to it; usually 5-10 years old cows having 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th, or 7th calving. Incidence at first calving is less. There are three phases of milk fever in cattle:

  • Prior to parturition (animal may fall on ground)

  • During parturition

  • After parturition

  • Maximum care right after 48 hours and occasionally occurs after 6-8 weeks. Suddenly animal may fall. Most of time during pregnancy estrogen level is increased due to which loss of appetite; animal does not take feed properly due to which calcium deficiency occurs and leads to milk fever. Burseem fodder cause increase in estrogen level and leads to starvation.

Clinical Findings:

Mild/Prodormal/subclinical stage:

▪  Animal is in standing position

▪  Brief state of excitement

▪  Muscle tremors (head and neck)

▪  Animal cannot move and eat

▪  Slight shaking of head

▪  Tongue protrudes out

▪  Teeth grinding

▪  Anorexia

  Agalactia (no milk production)

  Ruminal stasis

  Normal temperature, respiration and heart rate.

▪  All this happens due to loss of calcium and loss of body tone. It may remain for several hours and at
   this time animal response very well to the calcium therapy. So early diagnosis is important.

Sternal Recumbancy Stage:

▪  Unable to stand

▪  Cow is sleepy

▪  Turned head towards the flank

▪  No tetany, flaccid muscles, muzzle dry, skin and periphery cooled

▪  Rectal temperature 99-101.5 oF

▪  Increased heart rate but intensity very low

▪  Pulse also weak

▪  Ruminal stasis

▪  Constipation

▪  Tympany and blot

Lateral Recombancy Stage:

▪  Complete flaccidity

▪  Cow cannot resume sternal recumbancy

▪  No movement

▪  Heart sounds inaudible

▪  Heart rate is increased upto 120 beats/min

▪  Pulse almost cannot be palpated

▪  Cannot raise the jugular vein by putting pressure

▪  This stage cannot be retrieved

▪  Drenching pneumonia is common complication of this stage

Usually 400-800 ml 25 % calcium borogluconate is given in large animals. While giving calcium note all parameters, high doses may cause calcium toxicity and low dose causes relapse of calcium. To avoid heart attack, give Ca in different doses. If slight high dose, immediate death may occur.

Calcium should be given in combination with 5 % dextrose. Absorption of calcium in tissue is increased due to dextrose because it emulsifies the calcium. To avoid reoccurrence give 20-30 ml of vitamin D (AD3E).

Other multivitamis like B complex. If aspiratory pneumonia, then give calcium through subcutaneous or intraperitonial route. If you give intravascularly it will lead to edema, pulmonary hypertension.

Never inject calcium in summer season in direct sunlight it increases heart rate and there are chances of heart attack.

Avoid excessive calcium therapy before parturition.


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