Tools of the trade: Freestyle Optimum Neo

by Dr Katrina Martin, Hampden Veterinary Clinic, Cobden, VIC

This is a blood glucose and ketone monitoring system. It’s designed for use with diabetic human patients but we use it to monitor ketones in cattle. It’s a cheap, readily available product that we use in addition to our clinical examination to help diagnose cows.

What’s good about it

The procedure is very simple. A spot of blood is placed on a strip and that’s inserted into the machine. The measurement is then given a few seconds later.

Initially we had just one of these machines in the practice but now all our vets carry one in their car. They are pretty cheap—about $40—and it’s very convenient to be able to do cow-side tests.

If not for these machines we would have to send off a sample to a lab. Farmers obviously prefer to have the results immediately while we are examining their cattle. As it’s designed for humans, the results are only fairly accurate. However, it’s preferable to have a general idea of the ketone levels and be able to respond rather than waiting 24 hours for a lab report.

Using a urine dipstick is another way to measure ketones but that method doesn’t pick up beta-hydroxybutyrate so you end up with a lot of false negatives. If a cow is down with pregnancy toxaemia then using this device will help me make an accurate diagnosis. When a cow’s producing ketones, they’re usually quite sick and we need to work out what’s going on quickly. It’s also able to measure blood glucose and that’s very helpful when dealing with sick calves.

What’s not so good

It only measures two types of ketones, not the full range. However, we don’t generally find that a problem as it does measure beta-hydroxybutyrate, the predominant ketone produced in cattle.

Where did you get it

Our local pharmacy.

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