19 June 1998

Displaced abomasums

CONTINUED growth of lush grass with little fibre could be responsible for an increase in displaced abomasums in cows two to six weeks calved, a concern more commonly associated with 100% maize rations in winter.

Vet Keith Cutler, of Endell Vet Group, Salisbury, Wilts, warns he has seen left and right displaced abomasums in high yielding cows since turnout this spring and is concerned cases will continue to occur with current grass growth.

He believes this years lush grass is behaving like concentrate in the rumen – causing an overflow of fermented material into the abomasum where gas accumulates, leading to instability.

In winter, cows go off concentrates before suffering displaced abomasums but when little concentrate is fed this can go unnoticed, he says. In summer the first sign is often a milk drop, then cows become ill and continue to scour.

To prevent displaced abomasums, fresh calvers may need extra fibre to stimulate the rumen, such as access to a small amount of straw, and when feeding maize silage to grazing cows also offer fibre, he adds.

Avoiding displaced abomasums is vital as a right displaced abomasum is a surgical emergency as cows go into circulation failure within hours, stresses Mr Cutler.

Treatment for left displaced abomasums varies. Rolling animals can be successful, however, some animals relapse, so surgery is more reliable, he adds.