Grass tetany occurs in approximately 1 percent of the adult female cattle population. The majority of grass tetany problems occur during this time period when cattle are grazing well-fertilized, lush-growing pastures. But, it should be noted that it can be a problem anytime during the year. This is especially true with the abnormally warm spells of weather we have experienced this winter.
Symptoms of grass tetany in cattle range from staggering and falling to profuse salivation and even death. Although there are several symptoms, most diagnosed cases are related to deficient levels of magnesium in the cows blood serum. Low magnesium levels may result from inadequate amounts of magnesium being consumed or that it is in a form which is unavailable to the animal. High calcium and potassium levels in some forages tend to reduce magnesium absorption from the digestive tract. Grass tetany frequently occurs on well-managed farms and is not just a problem unique to poorly managed forages and cattle operations.
The best alternative to preventing this problem is to provide supplement magnesium to your cattle. To be on the safe side, many producers make this available year-round to their cattle, but all cattlemen should put out some form of supplemental magnesium when conditions are favorable for lush, rapid forage growth. Supplemental magnesium is available in a variety of forms ranging from High-Mag blocks to the loose salt-like type.
So, if you have not already put out some magnesium for your cattle, I would do so soon. If you have questions or need more information, feel free to call the Walker County Extension Office at (706) 638-2548 or stop by to see us at 102 E. Napier St., LaFayette.
Norman Edwards is coordinator of Walker County Extension Service.
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