Cow in a field
© Shutterstock/Rusta Ruseyn
It has been designed in answer to the growing problem facing British farmers, with up to one in seven cattle having the condition.
The world's first blood glucose meter designed specifically for diabetic cows has been developed by scientists.

British farmers are faced with a growing problem, with up to one in seven cattle potentially having the condition.

It is caused by poor quality feed or being overweight - a common symptom of cows that are milked, as they require extra energy.

They often need to be checked for the life-threatening complication known as ketosis - brought on when their body does not make enough insulin.

This then causes a build-up of ketones and a spike in blood sugar, and without immediate treatment it can be deadly. It can also spoil the milk - causing farmers to lose money.

Monitoring this build-up allows for them to ensure the health of their cattle, said Dr Dai Grove-White, of the University of Liverpool's Institute of Veterinary Science.

He told MailOnline: 'The modern dairy cow is the Usain Bolt of the cow world.

'Metabolically speaking, she is a highly-tuned athlete comparable to an Olympic athlete and excellent nutrition is just as important for her as for the athlete.

'Measuring ketones on a farm using hand held meters allows us to ask the cow herself whether her diet is suitable for her needs.'

Currently the animals are tested for the complication using human glucose meters, but these are not geared up for their physiology.

In response, British diabetes firm Gluco Rx, who normally work on humans, has launched the only system designed specifically at cows on the planet.

It measures ketone levels in dairy cows to detect the deadly condition and predict health risks during early lactation.

This can prevent decreased milk yields and economic loss, the scientists behind the contraption claim.

cow ketone meter
© Gluco Rx
The world's first meter designed for diabetic cows, which measures levels of ketones, has been created by British pharmaceutical firm Gluco Rx
Chris Chapman, director of Gluco Rx, told MailOnline: 'As an innovative company we are always looking to push the barriers of science and healthcare.

'While our normal focus is diabetes care for humans, when we developed our ketone meter we found that it could also work with cattle.

'We were aware of the challenge of ketosis in cows so pursued the findings and are today pleased to be able to present farmers with a ketone meter which is properly geared up to this challenge.'

There are 1,897,000 dairy cows in the UK, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) figures from June 2016 show - an increase of 5.6 per cent in the past five years.

A summary of this data by the Veterinary Manual suggested that up to 14 per cent are at risk of ketosis, representing 266,000 cattle.

They are not officially diagnosed with diabetes as such, but their blood sugar levels spike as a result of a lack of insulin - a key sign of the condition.

Regular monitoring of ketones is becoming a regular part of life on the modern dairy farm, according to a cattle expert.

Dr Grove-White likened it to humans getting the blood pressure monitored.

He said that keeping a frequent eye on their ketone levels allows farmers to ensure the perfect diet for their precious cattle.

This is important in ensuring they are at optimal health, and can continue to provide them good profits for their milk production.