Subclinical hypocalcaemia follows specific time-related and severity patterns in post-partum Holstein cows

V Tsiamadis, N Panousis, N Siachos, Athanasios I Gelasakis, G Banos, A Kougiomtzis, G Arsenos, GE Valergakis*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)
13 Downloads (Pure)


Hypocalcaemia is a common metabolic disorder of post-parturient dairy cows; enhancement of our knowledge regarding Ca dynamics would improve cow health and welfare. This study investigated the presence of time- and severity-related subclinical hypocalcaemia (SCHCa) patterns in Holstein cows after calving and their association with diseases during the first week of lactation. A total of 938 cows from nine herds were blood sampled on days 1, 2, 4 and 8 post-partum, and serum Ca concentration was measured with atomic absorption. Subclinical ketosis (serum β-hydroxybutyrate≥1.2 mmol/L) and cases of retained foetal membranes, metritis (MET), mastitis, ketosis and displaced abomasum (DA) were recorded. Using receiver operating characteristic (ROC) analysis, the SCHCa cut-off was identified at serum Ca ≤ 2.09 mmol/L. Hierarchical and two-step cluster analysis classified cows to seven clusters based on test day cow Ca records and overall SCHCa status. Two clusters (NORM and HIGH) included 318 normocalcaemic cows and five clusters (SCH-1 to -5) those that were at least once subclinically hypocalcaemic (n = 620). A second ROC analysis was performed in order to distinguish mild from severe cases of SCHCa in these 620 cows; this cut-off was identified at 1.93 mmol/L. The associated risk of disease with Ca clustership was assessed with generalized linear mixed models. Overall incidence of SCHCa was 66.1%. Clusters SCH-1 and SCH-2 included cows with short-term SCHCa of day 1 and day 2, respectively, while SCH-3 included cows with severe and prolonged SCHCa extending to day 4 and beyond. Clusters SCH-4 and SCH-5 included cows with delayed SCHCa, which culminated on days 4 and 8, respectively. Compared to NORM cows in HIGH had lower risk of MET and no cases of DA. Cows in SCH-3 had higher risk of being diagnosed with retained foetal membranes, DA or any disease during the study period. Cows in SCH-5 had higher risk of being diagnosed with ketosis, subclinical ketosis or any disease. In conclusion, there are multiple normocalcaemic and hypocalcaemic patterns that are differently associated with disease risk. [Abstract copyright: Copyright © 2020. Published by Elsevier B.V.]
Original languageEnglish
Article number100017
Number of pages7
Issue number1
Early online date10 Dec 2020
Publication statusPrint publication - Jan 2021


  • Calcium clusters
  • Dairy cows
  • Disease risk
  • Severity
  • Time


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