Benchmarking Early Postpartum Disorders in Alberta Dairy Herds


Source: Alberta Agriculture and Forestry,

M.G. Colazo1 , M. Gobikrushanth 2 , A. Behrouzi 1 , I. López-Helguera 3 , and B. Hoff 4

1Livestock Research Section, Alberta Agriculture and Forestry, Canada; 2AFNS, University of Alberta, Canada; 3Department of Animal Science, University of Lleida, Spain; 4Animal Health Laboratory, University of Guelph, Canada. E-mail:


• High producing dairy cattle are susceptible to an increased incidence of early postpartum disorders.

• The main objective was to determine the lactational incidence of postpartum disorders (PD) [i.e. retained fetal membranes (RFM), metritis, milk fever (MF), ketosis, displaced abomasum (DA), fatty liver (FL), and mastitis (MAS)] during 60 days in milk (DIM), and death and culling rate up to 90 DIM in dairy cows. A secondary objective was to investigate risk factors associated to PD and the association between PD and average milk yield by 90 DIM.


• 1096 (328 primiparous) lactating dairy cows from 11 free-stall dairy herds located in Central and Northern Alberta, Canada.

• Blood samples were collected between 2 and 14 DIM.

• Plasma concentrations of minerals (Ca, P, Mg, K, and Na), liver enzymes (ɣglutamyl transpeptidas, aspartate aminotransferase, glutamate dehydrogenase), β- hydroxybutyrate, non-esterified fatty acids, haptoglobin, and cholesterol were measured with an automated analyzer (Hitachi 911 Analyzer, Laval, QC).

• Metabolic profiles and farm records (PD were defined as in the Canadian National Health Project) were used to determine the incidence of each PD.

• Milk yield data were retrieved from Dairy Comp 305.


• The overall incidence of PD, death and culling rate was 56, 4 and 5%, respectively.

• Incidence of PD was greater in cows calving twins (88 vs. 55%), with multiparous cows more likely to have ketosis (19 vs. 14%), MF (10 vs. 4%), and MAS (28 vs. 22%), and less likely to have metritis (14 vs. 18%) than primiparous cows.

• Cows with MF or DA were 59 and 50 times more likely to die and those with ketosis 16 times more likely to be culled compared to healthy cows.


• The overall incidence of postpartum disorders was 56%, but variable among farms.

• The most common postpartum disorder was mastitis followed by ketosis.

• The cost of postpartum disorders, only based on loss of milk yield by 90 DIM, can range from 169 to 935 CAD.