Article Text

Farm Animal Practice
Ketosis and fatty liver in cattle
  1. Tony Andrews

    Tony Andrews is an independent consultant in farm animal management and disease. He has a considerable interest in nutritional problems and has recently undertaken projects involving the use of recombinant bovine somatotrophin in the treatment of fat cow syndrome and pregnancy toxaemia in ewes. He is an RCVS Specialist in Cattle Health and Production.


PROBABLY two-thirds of nutritional problems in cattle centre on energy balance. Energy deficiency, particularly in early lactation, leads to fat mobilisation, the degree of which appears to be related to the level of milk production, the magnitude of the energy deficit and/or the cow's body condition score at calving. All these factors can result in increased fat utilisation and raised plasma fatty acids and ketone body levels, which in turn can lead to diseases such as clinical ketosis or fat cow syndrome. More frequently, however, there are no overt signs of disease, but the deficit has knock-on effects such as an increased incidence of metabolic and infectious disease, excessive loss of condition, and poor fertility including poor conception rates, anoestrus, suboestrus and cystic ovarian disease. In every case there will be some increase in the fat content of the liver. Thus, the development of fatty liver appears to precede ketosis and contribute to its onset and that of a number of other energy deficiency syndromes, as described in this article.

Statistics from

Request permissions

If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.