Prevalence of abomasal lesions in Danish Holstein cows at the time of slaughter

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Abomasal lesions in cattle are challenging to diagnose because the clinical signs are often subtle and nonspecific. An increasing number of studies suggests that abomasal lesions are commonly found in cattle of all ages, but the number of recent prevalence studies in dairy cows is limited. The main objective of this study was to estimate the prevalence of abomasal lesions in a population of Danish Holstein dairy cattle in Denmark. An abattoir survey of 1,327 dairy cows apparently suitable for slaughter was performed in 2016 and 2017. Abomasal lesions are usually classified using a standardized protocol with the following types: abomasal ulcer type I: erosions and nonperforating ulcers; type II: ulcers with arterial bleeding; type III: perforating ulcer with localized peritonitis; and type IV: perforating ulcer with diffuse peritonitis. A further subdivision of the nonperforating abomasal ulcers type I were classified as subtype Ia: erosions; subtype Ib: small ulcers with localized hemorrhage; subtype Ic: ulcers with a crater-like appearance; and subtype Id: retention of the mucosa due to tissue loss with either radial wrinkles converging at a central point or perforations of the spiral folds. Type I abomasal lesions were found in 84% of the examined cows. No ulcers with arterial bleeding (type II) or perforating ulcers with diffuse peritonitis (type IV) were found, but one perforating abomasal ulcer (type III) was observed. The total number of lesions found was 7,418 and when the lesion subtypes were evaluated individually the majority of subtypes Ia and Ic were found in the pyloric area (85 and 94%, respectively), whereas lesion subtypes Ib and Id dominated the fundus/corpus area (71 and 67%, respectively). When considering lesion subtypes according to parity, there was a high prevalence of subtype Ib across the 3 groups of parity (51, 58, and 55% for parity 1, 2, and ≥3, respectively). The prevalence of lesion subtype Id seemed to increase with increasing parity, and the prevalence of lesion subtype Ia seemed to decrease with increasing parity. The prevalence of abomasal lesions was higher than that shown in similar studies of cattle at the time of slaughter. However, the expectedly most painful cases were rare, with only one perforating and no arterial bleeding ulcers found. The etiology of the different subtype I lesions is still unknown, and further investigations are needed to establish the possible influence these lesions might have on welfare and production.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Dairy Science
Issue number6
Pages (from-to)5403-5409
Publication statusPublished - 2019

    Research areas

  • abattoir investigation, abomasal ulcer, dairy cow, prevalence

ID: 216922098