Does it matter if your cow’s diet is cationic or anionic?

Published on 2-01-2021 - By Kemin

A meta-analysis of 42 randomized trials (Santosh et al., 2019 ), suggests that cows with cationic diets (diets having a positive charge due to higher concentration of sodium, potassium, calcium, and magnesium) are more likely to suffer increased incidences of milk fever or hypocalcemia. Cationic diets are one of the main triggers of subclinical hypocalcemia during the close-up dry cow phase.

An anionic diet to minimise hypocalcemia

Anionic/acidogenic diets (diets having a negative charge due to higher concentration of chloride, sulfur, and phosphorus) promote a more acidic metabolic state (lower blood pH) that is associated with a reduced incidence of milk fever. 

It is likely that most diets are cationic in nature, based on the dietary ingredients used in the diet of close-up cows. One of the main reasons for this is that these ingredients are fundamentally cationic.

Turning your cows’ diets from cationic to anionic can create optimal acidification in the cow’s blood. These acidogenic diets work to minimise hypocalcemia by:

  1. Changing the cow’s blood pH towards slightly acidic condition due to increasing the concentration of chloride ions
  2. Mobilising more calcium from the bones to buffer the acid in her bloodstream
  3. Achieving maximum calcium supply at the time of calving
  4. Reducing incidences of hypocalcemia which occur due to calcium deficiency

Compromised immunity and decreased muscle tone due to calcium deficiency can be associated with an increased incidence of retained fetal membranes in dairy cows. Under a formulating ruminant health programme for pre-calving cows (last 21 days before calving) diets were made acidogenic with NutriCAB™. As a result, the incidence of retained fetal membranes reduced from 28.7 % to 5.4%. 

Formulating pre-calving health

We hereby share our latest publication from Dairy Global in which Deepak Dubey shares his expertise and insights on formulating pre-calving cow’s health to reduce hypocalcemia and thus the incidences of retained fetal membranes in dairy cows.