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Reliable Point-of-Care lactate analysis in cattle


Applications of lactate concentration measurement in cattle

Lactate is a product of anaerobic metabolism that serves as a valuable prognostic marker in the fields of both human and veterinary medicine.

Increased lactate levels (hyperlactatemia) arise due to tissue hypoxia as a result of local or systemic hypoperfusion and/or poor oxygen delivery1,2. Measurements of blood lactate indicate how adequately oxygen is being delivered around the body, providing a way to assess the severity of cardiovascular or pulmonary disease, for example; how the body is responding to treatment and to predict health outcomes and aid decisions about how to improve survival3,4.

In cattle, measuring lactate concentrations is used to measure the severity of various conditions including respiratory disease, displacement of the abomasum (a ruminant’s fourth stomach) and neonatal diarrhea.2

More recently, lactate has been used to compare the fitness of pregnant versus non-pregnant cows which could be used by farmers to make judgements as to whether a cow is fit enough to calf again; and to compare exercised versus non-exercised cows, enabling agricultural and animal welfare inspectors to assess how much exercise a cow has recently had.

Research has also shown that new-born calves that require assisted delivery due to dystocia (abnormal labor) have higher lactate levels compared with calves that do not require assistance.2 A scoring system called APGAR that assesses the health of new-born calves has been shown to be negatively correlated with blood lactate level2.

Measuring lactate concentrations in cattle

Increasingly, lactate analysis is being performed for the prognosis and diagnosis of a range of conditions and diseases in veterinary medicine5. Traditionally, lactate has been measured from serum/plasma samples in the laboratory, but increased availability of hand-held lactate analyzers for on-the-spot, point-of-care (POC) analysis provides the opportunity to monitor whole blood lactate concentration in real-time at an animal’s side6.

Although the prognostic value of the blood lactate level in ruminant medicine has not been widely documented, its reliability has been validated in two recent studies.

Case study: Lactate measurement in cows at Freie Universität Berlin

Researchers at the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Freie Universität Berlin measured blood in various bovine conditions including dystocia and parturition (the process of giving birth)2.

The researchers compared factors that influence measures of lactate in dairy cows such as the use of different anticoagulants and different techniques. They then tested the accuracy and reliability of the Lactate Scout hand-held device from EKF Diagnostics compared with a standard, laboratory lactate analysis method.

The team showed that there was no difference in lactate concentration using lithium heparin blood samples when either the Lactate Scout or the standard laboratory method was used.

The study concludes that the use of lithium heparin as an anti-coagulant with the Lactate Scout serves as a useful tool for simple, reliable and accurate measurement of blood lactate in cows and calves at the animal’s side2.

Case study: Lactate measurement in sheep at Ataturk University, Turkey

Researchers at the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Ataturk University in Turkey studied the use of the Lactate Scout as a POC instrument for the determination of blood L-lactate concentration in sheep1.

The study examined sheep of various ages that had a variety of diseases. The researchers compared blood lactate measured with the Lactate Scout with plasma lactate measured with the Cobas autoanalyzer as a standard laboratory reference.

The study showed that the Lactate Scout had an accuracy of 98% and a precision of 99% compared with the reference method and concluded that the Lactate Scout is a reliable POC analyser for assessing lactate levels in ovine medicine.

EKF Diagnostics' Lactate Scout

Rapid, cost effective and reliable animal-side results can be obtained using the Lactate Scout as a prognostic and diagnostic tool in veterinary medicine5.

A simple and convenient device, use of the Lactate Scout involves only three steps: the sensor is removed and placed into the analyser, flesh is pricked, and blood collected by touching with the sensor and results are generated after a 10 second wait8. It requires only 0.2µl of capillary blood and up to 250 results can be stored on the device.


Why should veterinary professional use PoC analyzers?

Find out more about the different methods for testing, the symptoms and the associated conditions, and understand how POCT can help vets provide a specialised service to their clients.



Learn more about the benefits




  1. Baydar et al (2015). Reliability of the Lactate Scout point-of-care instrument for the determination of blood L-lactate concentration in sheep. Veterinary Clinical Pathology.; 44: 559–563 https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/vcp.12288
  2. Burfeind and Heuwieser (2012). Validation of handheld meters to measure blood L-lactate concentration in dairy cows and calves. Journal of Dairy Science. 95: 6449–6456 https://www.journalofdairyscience.org/article/S0022-0302(12)00648-0/fulltext
  3. Constable (1999) Blood Lactate and Pyruvate Concentrations in Cattle with Abomasal Volvulus. Dairy Cattle. Illinois Livestock Trail http://livestocktrail.illinois.edu/dairynet/paperDisplay.cfm?ContentID=303
  4. Sharkey (2013) Use of Lactate in Small Animal Clinical Practice. Veterinary Clinics of North America Small Animal Practice  43: 1287−97 https://www.researchgate.net/publication/258062768_Use_of_Lactate_in_Small_Animal_Clinical_Practice
  5. Lactate Testing for Veterinary Applications. EKF Diagnostics for Life https://www.ekfdiagnostics.com/lactate-testing-for-veterinary-applications.html
  6. Higgins (2008) Lactate measurement – point of care versus the laboratory. Acutecaretesting.org  https://acutecaretesting.org/en/journal-scans/lactate-measurement-point-of-care-versus-the-laboratory
  7. Lactate Scout+ Lactate analyser. Fast, accurate and reliable lactate measurement. EKF Diagnostics for Life https://www.ekfdiagnostics.com/lactate-scout-plus.html
  8. Lactate Scout 4 - Lactate Analyzer for athletes. Accurate lactate measurement to drive performance improvement. EKF Diagnostics for Life https://www.ekfdiagnostics.com/lactate-scout.html
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