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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2009

Oligofructose overload induces lameness in cattle

Danscher AM, Enemark JMD, Telezhenko Evgenij, Capion N, Ekstrøm CT, Thoefner MB


The aim was to describe the clinical orthopedic implications of oligofructose overload. A group of 8 nonpregnant dairy heifers were given an oral dose of oligofructose (17 g/kg of body weight). At predefined times during a period spanning 3 d before and 9 d after oligofructose overload, the heifers underwent a clinical examination including locomotion scoring, hoof-testing, and palpation of tarso-crural joints, as well as the collection of blood and ruminal fluid samples. Locomotion sessions were videotaped; subsequently, locomotion was blind-scored. Locomotion scores increased after oligofructose overload and declined toward the end of the study period. The greatest locomotion scores were recorded on d 3 to 5 (60 to 120 h) where 12 of 42 (29%) locomotion scores were 3 and 13 of 42 (32%) were score 2. Positive reactions to hoof-testing were observed from 30 h after oligofructose overload and reached a maximum on d 7 and 9 where 12 of 28 (43%) reactions were marked positive. Distension of the tarso-crural joints was observed from 24 h after oligofructose overload, with maximum distension being observed on d 2, in which 44 of 56 (79%) of observed joints were either moderately or severely distended. The heifers developed classic signs of acute ruminal and systemic acidosis after the oligofructose overload (ruminal pH 4.3 ± 0.07, standard base excess -10.8 ± 2.3 at 18 h). With few exceptions, clinical and laboratory variables returned to normal within 9 d of oligofructose overload. But, good body condition and previous feeding with grass apparently predisposed the heifers to more severe systemic affection. Oligofructose overload in dairy heifers induced ruminal and systemic acidosis, diarrhea, dehydration, and, subsequently, lameness, claw pain, and joint effusion, collectively interpreted as signs of acute laminitis. Oligofructose overload at 17 g/kg of body weight represented a relatively mild laminitis model in cattle, as demonstrated by a reasonably quick recovery from systemic as well as orthopedic signs


oligofructose overload; acute ruminal acidosis; lameness; bovine laminitis

Published in

Journal of Dairy Science
2009, volume: 92, number: 2, pages: 607-616
Publisher: American Dairy Science Association

Authors' information

Danscher, A.M.
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Biosystems and Technology
Enemark, J.M.D.
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Animal Environment and Health
Capion, N.
Ekstrøm, C.T.
Thoefner, M.B.

UKÄ Subject classification

Animal and Dairy Science
Veterinary Science

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