Acid-base assessment of post-parturient German Holstein dairy cows from jugular venous blood and urine: A comparison of the strong ion approach and traditional blood gas analysis
Evaluating acid-base status is important for monitoring dairy herd health. In a field study, we aimed to compare the acid-base status measured by net acid-base excretion (NABE) in urine with results of venous blood analysis in clinically healthy, but possibly metabolically burdened cows in their transition period. For this, we sampled blood from the jugular vein and urine from 145 German Holstein cows within 1 to 76 days post-partum. In blood, the metabolic parameters non-esterified fatty acids (NEFA) and β-hydroxybutyrate (BHB), as well as numerous parameters of the acid-base status were measured. The traditional approach, based on bicarbonate concentration, base excess (BE) and anion gap (AG), was compared to the strong ion approach variables, e.g. acid total (Atot), measured strong ion difference (SIDm), strong ion gap (SIG), and unmeasured anions (XA), respectively. Results of both approaches were set against the outcome of urine analysis, i.e. the NABE, base-acid ratio and pH of urine, in a cluster analysis, which provided 7 moderately stable clusters. Evaluating and interpreting these 7 clusters offered novel insights into the pathophysiology of the acid-base equilibrium in fresh post-partum dairy cows. Especially in case of subclinical acid-base disorders, the parameters of the strong ion difference theory, particularly SIDm, Atot and SIG or XA, provided more in-depth information about acid-base status than the traditional parameters BE, bicarbonate or AG in blood. The acid-base status of fresh cows with protein aberrations in blood could be differentiated in a much better way using the strong ion approach than by traditional blood gas analysis or by the measurement of urinary excretion. Therefore, the strong ion approach seems to be a suitable supplement for monitoring acid-base balance in dairy cattle.