Original Research

Effects on anionic salts in a pre-partum dairy ration on calcium metabolism

C.J. Van Dijk, D.C. Lourens
Journal of the South African Veterinary Association | Vol 72, No 2 | a621 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/jsava.v72i2.621 | © 2001 C.J. Van Dijk, D.C. Lourens | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 09 July 2001 | Published: 09 July 2001

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C.J. Van Dijk,
D.C. Lourens,

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The effects of anionic salts in the transition diet on serum and urine calcium at calving and on peripartal health, subsequent milk production and fertility performance were studied in a well-managed, high-producing Friesland dairy herd. Over a period of a year, approximately 21 days before the expected date of calving, 28 pre-partum heifers and 44 multiparous dry cows were randomly allocated within parity to 1 of 2 transition diets, designated control and experimental anionic diets. The anionic diet contained the same quantities of the basic transition ration fed to the control group as well as a standard anionic salt mixture containing 118 g NH4Cl, 36 g (NH4)2SO4 and 68 g MgSO4 (total 222 g) per animal per day. This reduced the DCAD to -11.68 mEq/100 g dietary dry matter compared to +13.57 for the control diet. Blood and urine were randomly sampled from 7 to 8 animals within each category within 3 hours post-partum. Serum calcium (total and ionised) and creatinine, urine calcium and creatinine and the fractional clearance of calcium were assessed. Relevant clinical, milk production, and fertility data were collected. The total serum calcium (2.07 versus 1.60 mmol/ ), serum ionised calcium (1.12 vs 1.02 mmol/ ), urine calcium (0.92 vs 0.10 mmol/ ) and the fractional clearance of calcium (1.88 vs 0.09 %) were significantly higher (P <0.01) at calving for multiparous cows fed the anionic diet compared to those fed the control diet. In the primiparous cows there were no significant differences in serumcalcium levels. However, the urine calcium (1.07 vs 0.43 mmol/ ) and the fractional clearance of calcium was higher (1.75 vs 0.45 %) in cows fed the anionic diet (P <0.05 and 0.01 respectively). These results illustrated that there were benefits, although no differences were demonstrated with respect to health, milk production or fertility. The supplementation of diets with anionic salts in the last 2-3 weeks before calving has the potential to significantly improve parturient calcium homeostasis.


Dairy Cow; Dietary Cation-Anion Difference (DCAD); Pre-Partum Transition Diet; Serum And Urine Calcium Levels


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1. Long-term Effects of Dietary Anion-Cation Balance on Acid-Base Status and Bone Morphology in Reproducing Ewes
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