Like most metabolic diseases it is important to remember that for every cow that shows clinical signs, there will be several more which are affected sub-clinically!

Ketosis, acetonaemia occurs when the cow's energy intake does not match its requirement, the cow is unable to compensate, and she mobilises her body reserves too quickly. The problems arise at a different time for dairy cows than for beef cows.


In dairy cows, the mismatch between input and output usually occurs in the first few weeks of lactation, because the cows are not able to eat enough to match the energy lost in the milk.


In beef cows, this is most likely to occur in late pregnancy when the cow's appetite is at its lowest and the energy requirement of the growing calf near its peak. 

Ketosis, acetonaemia is more common in dairy cows, probably because the energy difference of the lactating cow is more difficult to overcome than that of a pregnant cow.

This means that most dairy cows  are in negative energy balance during the first few weeks of their lactation! 

Ketosis, acetonaemia occurs when a cow is not able to cope with this energy deficit, either because it is too great or if it continues for too long.


If it occurs in one cow, it usually indicates that more are suffering from an energy deficit that is significantly reducing their productivity. 

One clinical case of ketosis, acetonaemia is the tip of the iceberg.

For the subclinical form of the disease is it therefore advisable to do blood testing on other cows in the same lactation group.

The number of cases of ketosis, acetonaemia increase significantly during the winter and early springtime.

It is therefore very important to be extra vigilant for ketosis, acetonemia until at least a month after the winter period.

In addition, vigilance throughout the year is of course a must!