Validation of handheld meters to measure blood L-lactate concentration in dairy cows and calves

Blood lactate in cattle is measured in various conditions such as parturition and dystocia. The authors indicate that to their knowledge, no handheld device has been validated for the use in cows and only one handheld device was validated for the use in calves.

The overall aims of this study were to test the accuracy of 2 commercial laboratories to measure lactate from both lithium heparin and sodium fluoride plasma, and also to study whether a handheld lactate analyser measures higher values of lactate using sodium fluoride as anticoagulant than using lithium heparin. The authors also aimed to validate a handheld meter (Lactate Scout, SensLab GmbH, Leipzig, Germany) for use in dairy cows and calves.

To complete this study, three experiments were carried out in 2010 on a commercial dairy farm in Germany, where the blood samples from various cows and calves were analysed in order to study factors influencing lactate measurements in dairy cows (e.g., different anticoagulants, different methods) and to validate the Lactate Scout handheld device to determine lactate concentration in dairy cows and calves.

In the first experiment, plasma l-lactate concentrations were measured using 2 commercial laboratories and compared using sodium fluoride and lithium heparin as anticoagulants. Furthermore, plasma l-lactate concentrations were analyzed using the same anticoagulants and 3 different methods: Lactate Scout, Biosen C_line (EKF Diagnostics GmbH, Barleben, Germany), and a wet chemistry analyser.

The objectives of the second and third experiments were to validate the Lactate Scout for measuring lactate in the blood of dairy cows and calves using lithium heparin as anticoagulant.

Blood samples taken from 173 cows and 106 calves were analyzed using the 3 methods (Lactate Scout, Biosen C_line, and commercial laboratory). The lactate concentrations measured with the 3 methods were correlated.

The authors concluded that the Lactate Scout and Biosen C_line measure blood lactate concentrations reliably compared with a commercial laboratory as the reference method in dairy cows and calves. The Lactate Scout is a useful tool for accurate animal-side detection of blood lactate concentrations of cows and calves. Lithium heparin should be used as anticoagulant when determining lactate concentration animal-side with the Lactate Scout.

This article was written by O. Burfeind and W. Heuwieser and published in 2012 in Journal of Dairy Science 95:6449–6456

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Validation of handheld meters to measure blood L-lactate concentration in dairy cows and calves