Abomasal disorders and the effect of dehydration
Post-freshening, there is more room for the abomasum to “move around” due to space now available without the calf. Encouraging immediate water intake helps to “anchor” the rumen in place and reduces the chance of displacement. Water intake also provides a necessary mechanism for gut function and nutrient dispersion. However, due to continued depression in appetite cows also may not drink right away or in amounts necessary for gut stability or recovery. Additionally, in the presence of even low levels of dehydration, another contributor to abomasal displacement is suppressed appetite (Fig 3) and the resulting imbalance of essential nutrients.
Research¹ shows that 38% of cows with left displacement of abomasum showed clinical symptoms of dehydration, where 57% of cows with right abomasal displacement showed some degree of dehydration. Furthermore, cows with either abomasal volvulus or abomasal impaction were moderately to severely dehydrated in 85% of cases on average.
More research² results suggest that lower potassium levels in blood were associated with low chloride, rise in blood pH (alkalemia), low feed intake with high amount of milk produced, low circulating blood (hypovolemia), and higher blood glucose (hyperglycemia) in lactating dairy cows. Treatment for potassium deficiency should include surgical correction of abomasal displacement, increased dietary potassium intake via dietary dry matter intake or oral administration of KCl (potassium chloride), and correction of the rest of parameters.