Acta Vet. Brno 2017, 86: 239-248

Metabolic and mineral conditions of retained placenta in highly productive dairy cows: pathogenesis, diagnostics and prevention – a review

Ryszard Mordak1, Józef Nicpoń1, Josef Illek2

1Wrocław University of Environmental and Life Sciences, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Department of Internal Diseases with Clinic for Horses, Dogs and Cats, Wrocław, Poland
2University of Veterinary and Pharmaceutical Sciences, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Large Animal Clinical Laboratory, Brno, Czech Republic

Received November 29, 2016
Accepted October 2, 2017

The time around calving in highly productive dairy cows is a critical period in terms of their metabolism, which is connected with high demands of the foetus as well as with the onset of lactation. Retained placenta in cows may have multifactorial aetiology, but in herds which are free from infectious diseases, the most important reasons are; periparturient metabolic changes and disturbances to the internal balance and stress. During the periparturient period, the most important factor causing immune suppression and hypotony of uterus in cows is metabolic stress due to hormonal and nutritional factors, including metabolic fluctuations, negative energy balance, as well as shortage of proteins, minerals, vitamins and antioxidants. This metabolic stress as a result of an imbalance in the internal metabolic homeostasis activates the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenocortical axis (HPA) and increases serum corticosterid (cortisol) concentration, especially on the day of calving. Cortisol is a powerful immune suppressive factor that causes depression of leukocyte proliferation and their functions. The periparturient metabolic stress may also stimulate the production of catecholamines, especially adrenalin. Elevated levels of adrenalin activate adrenoreceptors of the myometrium, which in turn cause hypotony or atony of the uterus at calving in cows. Elevated levels of cortisol and adrenalin may significantly inhibit the rejection and expulsion of foetal membranes in cows, resulting in an increased incidence of their retention. These important mechanisms for placental retention in highly productive dairy cows often have primary nutritional metabolic aetiology, but they also occur during secondary metabolic disturbances and metabolic stress during calving. This metabolic and immunological aetiology and pathogenesis of retained placenta usually occur in highly productive periparturient cows on dairy farms in the absence of bovine infectious diseases, which can couse placentitis, stillbirth and the infectious origin of foetal membrane retention. The paper presents the most important metabolic, mineral and immunological disturbances as conditions for retained placenta in dairy cows. It also shows different methods of herd monitoring, important examples of clinical and laboratory diagnostics, and methods of nutritional and veterinary prevention of this health problem in dairy cows.


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