Grass tetany caus­ing stock losses for lo­cal farm­ers

North East & Goulburn Murray Farmer - - LIVESTOCK - By Dr JEFF CAVE Agri­cul­ture Vic­to­ria’s Dis­trict Ve­teri­nary Of­fi­cer

AT this time of year in North East Vic­to­ria, grass tetany is po­ten­tially a ma­jor prob­lem in cat­tle.

Since cat­tle with grass tetany of­ten die sud­denly, the first sign on your prop­erty may be a dead cow.

To es­tab­lish the like­li­hood of grass tetany oc­cur­ring on your prop­erty, it is worth con­sid­er­ing some of the main risk fac­tors.

Cat­tle con­tract­ing the dis­ease are associated with im­ma­ture, rapidly grow­ing, grass dom­i­nant pas­tures.

It is also linked with soils high in potas­sium, or with the heavy use of ni­tro­gen or potash fer­tilis­ers.

Older, fat­ter cows soon after calv­ing are most likely to be af­fected, and grass tetany is most likely to oc­cur dur­ing cool and cloudy weather.

After con­sid­er­ing the risk fac­tors, it is worth plan­ning how you would pre­vent, and if nec­es­sary treat, an out­break of grass tetany on your prop­erty.

Grass tetany oc­curs when blood magnesium lev­els are low, there­fore is also known as hy­po­mag­ne­saemia.

Cat­tle are un­able to store magnesium, there­fore as pro­tec­tion magnesium sup­ple­ments need to be given daily to cat­tle at great­est risk dur­ing pe­ri­ods of po­ten­tial grass tetany.

Con­sider how you would sup­ple­ment your herd - by giv­ing magnesium ox­ide treated hay, min­eral licks, magnesium cap­sules or by some other means.

When cat­tle are af­fected clin­i­cally with grass tetany, they dis­play ini­tial ex­cite­ment, bel­low­ing, mus­cle spasms, be­fore con­vul­sions which are then fol­lowed by death.

Since grass tetany leads to the rapid death of cat­tle, the treat­ment of clin­i­cal cases is an emer­gency sit­u­a­tion, and ve­teri­nary as­sis­tance should be sought im­me­di­ately.

A vet­eri­nar­ian will give a cal­cium and magnesium so­lu­tion in­tra­venously.

If a vet­eri­nar­ian is not avail­able, the cal­cium and magnesium so­lu­tion should be given un­der the skin.

FEED OUT: Grass tetany in cat­tle is com­mon this time of year, and can be avoided by mak­ing sure older cat­tle have plenty of ac­cess to roughage.

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