We tested two subclinical ketosis treatments in a placebo controlled trial.
Treatments: sodium propionate (SP), combination of SP with a herbal extract.
We found slight advantages of the combination of SP with a herbal extract.
Beneficial effects were observed in reduced ketone bodies in blood and milk.
We found no difference between pure sodium propionate and placebo treatment.
While glucogenic substances in ketosis prevention are commonly used, there is a lack of clinical studies about the effectiveness of ketosis therapy in particular by means of sodium propionate and herbal extracts. Fresh cows between 5 and 50 days in milk of 25 Swiss and German dairy farms were tested weekly for ketone bodies in blood. From 283 cows, 121 (42.8%) exceeded the threshold of 1.0 mmol/l blood-β-hydroxybutyrate (BBHB). Thereof 84 cows were randomly assigned to three treatments on each farm. Treatment SP-H was composed of sodium propionate (120 g per application) and an aqueous extract of seven herbs (13.5 g drug equivalent per application), treatment SP comprised pure sodium propionate (120 g per application) and treatment PL was a placebo. All preparations were fluid (in total 350 ml per application) and were supplemented with organic molasses (2%) and water. Applications were given orally twice a day shortly after milking for a period of four days. During an observation period of two weeks, milk yield and milk parameters (acetone, protein, urea), body condition score and BBHB were recorded. All three treatment groups had similar initial conditions, except for a non-significantly lower ketone body concentration in blood and milk in group PL.
The results indicated a reduction of ketone bodies in all three treatment groups. Mean values in group SP never differed significantly from those of group PL regarding the observed parameters. During the first week of observation milk-acetone (MAC) concentration was reduced in all treatment groups: Mean values in group SP-H were on the lowest level and differed significantly from those in group SP (P=0.035) and PL (P<0.001). The second week of observation did not reveal any significant difference between the assessed parameters. The largest reduction in BBHB concentration after two weeks showed group SP-H with a difference by trend to group SP (P=0.06), but not to group PL. There were no significant differences between the groups concerning the other recorded parameters. Compared to placebo or pure sodium propionate a combination of sodium propionate with herbal extracts seemed to have slight advantages in a four days therapy of subclinical ketotic fresh cows.