Subclinical milk fever in dairy cows

Prevention of the periparturient drop in blood calcium content in dairy cows strongly reduces the prevalence of (sub-)clinical milk fever


At the onset of milk production after calving, calcium excretion increases substantially. This requires a swift adaptation of the calcium metabolism to maintain calcium homeostasis. If the cow cannot maintain calcium homeostasis via increased calcium absorption, or calcium mobilization from bone, blood calcium content drops, which might result in hypocalcaemia and (sub-)clinical milk fever. The incidence of (sub-)clinical milk fever is generally higher in multiparous dairy cows, as the drop in the blood calcium content after calving is generally much bigger in multiparous than in primiparous cows. Subclinical milk fever, which often remains undetected, increases the risk of retained placenta, abomasal displacement, and ketosis, whereas clinical milk fever is life-threatening and needs immediate veterinarian treatment.

The implication for the industry

A blood serum calcium content of approx. 1.5 - 2 mmol/L is considered hypocalcemic, resulting in subclinical milk fever. Up to 50% of highly productive multiparous cows and 25% of primiparous cows suffer from hypocalcaemia. The economic consequence of (sub-)clinical milk fever is substantial, due to production losses and veterinary treatments. Prevention is generally based on reduced dietary cation-anion difference (DCAD) or increased calcium supply via multiple rumen boluses inserted around parturition. Alternative options might be focused on the increase of the efficacy of calcium absorption and utilization. A single application with a bolus that contains G-1,25(OH)2D3 from Solanum glaucophyllum can stabilize blood calcium concentration around calving.

  • Increases calcium absorption

  • Reduces the risk for hypocalcemia in dairy cows

  • Stabilizes serum calcium concentration during the transition period

  • Reduces the incidence of milk fever

  • Reduces the time to placenta expulsion

  • Is gradually released in the rumen

  • Only one bolus with Panbovine® needed

Panbovine® is a micro-encapsulated product, free-flowing, for bolus applications. It is based on finely ground Solanum glaucophyllum leaves, the source of the bioactive form of vitamin D3.

Thanks to its unique mode of action, the bolus with Panbovine® inside needs only one application per calving to reduce the risk of milk fever for dairy cows, unlike current solutions on the market.

  • 100% Natural

  • GMO-free

  • Standardized content of the active ingredient

  • Suitable for organic production

  • Considered a complementary feed in the EU

  • Free flowing product with good storage stability

Mode of action

Vitamin D3 is a key player in calcium metabolism. However, it needs two conversion steps to become metabolically active: the first step happens in the liver, where vitamin D3 is converted to 25-hydroxycholecalciferol (25(OH)D3), the storage form of vitamin D3. The second activation step happens in the kidney, where the 25(OH)D3 is converted into 1,25-dihydroxycholecalciferol (1,25(OH)2D3), which is the metabolically active form, that is essential to maintain calcium homeostasis. When providing Panbovine®, which contains G-1,25(OH)2D3, only the glycosides need to be cleaved by the rumen microbiota. After 1,25(OH)2D3 is released, it is absorbed. Due to its direct stimulation of the intestinal calcium absorption, 1,25(OH)2D3 can prevent hypocalceamia in dairy cows during the periparturient period supporting metabolic adaptations to maintain calcium homeostasis.

Trial charts

Applying a single bolus with Panbovine® 2 to 5 days before calving, significantly increased the blood serum 1,25(OH)2D3 concentration, preventing calcium contents below 2 mmol/L in both primiparous and multiparous cows. The slow-release bolus that dissolves in the rumen during a period of 10 days allows a wide window of application between nine days to one day before the actual calving date.


Figure 1. Serum calcium content in blood of multiparous dairy cows after supply of G-1,25(OH)2D3 via a bolus, 5 days before the expected calving date.



Additionally, in a field trial it was shown that apart from improving calcium homeostasis, a single bolus with Panbovine® inside improved milk production during the first 14 days after calving and reduced the calving to estrus interval.

Our solution Panbovine®
  • fast time to action
  • improves calcium homeostasis
  • reduces risk of milk fever