Farmers asked to share experiences of milk fever in survey

Milk fever is currently thought to affect between 4-9% of the UK’s dairy cows
Milk fever is currently thought to affect between 4-9% of the UK’s dairy cows

Farmers have been asked to share their experiences of milk fever, a disease which can result in significant losses and has an impact on animal welfare.

The new survey is aiming to capture the opinions of farmers and their on-farm experiences of the condition, formally called hypocalcaemia.

Farmers across the UK are being encouraged to share their knowledge to fill in some of the gaps that still exist on the impact of milk fever – both clinical and subclinical.

The survey, launched by Boehringer Ingelheim Animal Health, seeks to assess the scale of the hypocalcaemia problem on dairy and beef farms as well as look at the impact it has on the farm and productivity.

Milk fever is currently thought to affect between 4-9% of the UK’s dairy cows, with the subclinical form affecting up to 39%.

The survey will provide another up to date figure to compare with existing data and look at any regional trends that might exist.

Farmers are encouraged to complete the survey regardless of whether they believe milk fever is an issue on their farm or not.

Mathieu Maignan, of Boehringer Ingelheim, said: “We are really keen to find out about the real-life experience of milk fever and what really matters to farmers so that we can use this knowledge to improve the approach to managing the condition.

“Milk fever can result in significant losses and has a big impact to animal welfare. Finding out what aspect is of most concern and the strategies farmers currently use will help us support them more effectively.”

Kath Aplin, veterinary adviser, is hoping to find out more about the recognition of the signs of subclinical milk fever in particular.

She said milk fever is not always well recognised as a predisposing factor in a number of conditions associated around transition.

“It will be really interesting to see if farmers feel there is a connection between those conditions and low calcium levels and how this affects which animals they target with calcium supplementation and other interventions,” she said.

The survey is online and available for completion now, and will run until 31st August 2019. The results will be shared with the farming and veterinary community alongside any insights gained into ways to improve the approach to milk fever.