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Development of an effective method to monitor the acid-base status of dairy cows in the transit period


Thüringer Ministerium für Infrastruktur und Landwirtschaft

Federal State



Werner-Seelenbinder-Str. 8
99096 Erfurt

Website: External link to the authority

Project Title

Development of an effective method to monitor the acid-base status of dairy cows in the transit period

Project description

Regular monitoring of metabolic health is an integral part of health surveillance of dairy cows. This includes the determination of the urine net acid-base extraction (NABE) which identifies chronic metabolic acidosis or alkalosis (acidification or alkalisation of rumen) as a cause for inadequate feeding. Objective of this project was to evaluate the validity of existing analysis methods (in urine and blood) to achieve a practical and accurate monitoring of the acid-base-balance by possible combination of various methods. In the project various approaches for the NABE analysis in urine, as single value and pool samples, as well as examinations of blood samples (traditional blood analysis and “strong iron” approach by Stewart) were examined for practical suitability and accuracy. Focus of the project was on the early detection of critical metabolic imbalances, especially in the production stages with the highest risk of contracting a disease (transit phase and lactation).

Results focusing on practiceorientation

The NABE method (urine examination according to Kutas 1965) showed in the project results (individual animal observation) for the detection of metabolic disorders, both in the case of acidotic and alkalotic loads, a sufficient and stable test quality. It can be consolidated as a suitable method for routine diagnostics. The further simplification of the NABE analysis as a sieve test brings advantages in technical handling in the laboratory, but the diagnostic value was more limited. Even the extended NABE method couldn‘t show an acceptable test quality for the detection of alkalosis. The use of pool examinations should always be proofed critically. They are characterized by a high specificity with limited sensitivity. Therefore, they are recommended as confirmatory examinations and less as screening examinations. Modern blood gas analysis (Stewart concept) could be a useful addition to the currently established metabolic monitoring.

Key words

Animal husbandry

Main funding source

Rural development 2014-2020 for Operational Groups (in the sense of Art 56 of Reg.1305/2013)

OG contact information

Thüringer Tierseuchenkasse
Victor-Goertller-Straße 4
07745 Jena

Phone: 03641 8855-21

Email: direkt@thtsk.de

Type of OG partners

  • Farmer
  • Advisor
  • Researcher

Begin of project


Project status


Total budget applied for in EUR


Further information

2015 LFE 0003

Link 1

Project poster

Link 2

scientific paper

Link 3

Project Website



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