Ketosis in Cattle: A Costly Threat to Dairy Production in Ireland

 Tue, 14th Mar, 2023

Ketosis is a metabolic disease that can affect dairy cows during the first few weeks after calving. It is caused by an imbalance in the metabolism of glucose and fatty acids, which leads to an accumulation of ketone bodies in the blood.

The symptoms of Ketosis are: Decreased appetite, decreased milk production, loss weight, sweet or fruity breath, lethargy / weakness, digestive disturbances (diarrhoea and bloating), increased urination and drinking.

The consequences of Ketosis are: decreased milk production, loss weight, reproductive problems (retained placenta and infertility) and increased susceptibility to other diseases.


The causes of ketosis is the metabolic imbalance between glucose and fatty acid utilization. This imbalance can be caused by:

• Poor nutrition

Stressful conditions - transportation, overcrowding, extreme weather conditions.

Genetic - Some animals are more predisposed to ketosis.

• Negative - energy balance during early lactation, when cows are consuming less feed but producing larger quantities of milk.

Hormonal imbalances - hypothyroidism or other metabolic disorders, can increase the risk of ketosis.




Image thanks to Mathias Beckmann