Grass staggers or Hypomagnesaemia is a condition that usually affects lactating cows and can cause fatal consequences for farmers during the milking season - but how do you fight it?
Are can be tempting to simply brush off things off and assume that your cows "get plenty of magnesium in their diet" but this way of thinking should be met with caution.
If you're in doubt, Waterman's will give you our tricks & tips to prevent grass staggers and keep your cows in peak condition over the Spring period.
How Do You Make Sure Your Cow Is Getting Enough Magnesium?
In ideal circumstances, magnesium should come from a healthy diet, but due to many different factors this can be difficult to achieve and supplementation will need to be introduced. High levels of potassium, high rumen pH and K fertilisers can result in a lack of magnesium. You should aim for a target intake of around 20-30 grams of magnesium per cow per day or 2.5g/kg of dry matter intake.
There are many ways to supplement magnesium into your cow's diet:
- Include Calcined Magnesite (Cal-Mag) in a TMR or dairy compound.
- Magnesium Chloride can be added to troughs providing the concentration isn't so high it makes water undrinkable.
- Magnesium licks and molasses, blocks are great, providing there is enough to go round your entire cattle.
- Supplementing your cows with extra hay, straw or silage.
To be on the safe side, use a number of different magnesium sources if you're choosing a free access high magnesium product to make sure your cattle are getting the correct levels.
To clear up any confusion, grass staggers or tetany is the result of a magnesium deficiency that can occur in cows and sheep when too much magnesium is expelled through milk production and not enough of the mineral is being ingested to replace the loss.
Magnesium levels in your animals can be affected by anything from lactation to stress to pregnancy and even adverse weather conditions.
From the first visible symptoms, cows can die in 6 hours.
To avoid cow fatalities, ensure they are getting the right levels of magnesium every single day.
Sodium helps carry magnesium around the body of the animal, therefore always make sure that your livestock can graze ground rock salt or a salt lick.
Wet or high protein grass can contribute to a lack of magnesium in cows.