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Green Fields Could Cost You

Posted on Monday Mar 20, 2023 at 10:04AM in Lawn and Garden

As the winter weather gives way to spring temperatures, green pastures are a welcome sign of the changing season. But did you realize that lush grass could cost you big bucks? The risk of grass tetany accompanies this new, spring growth as cattle graze the immature grass.

Grass tetany is characterized by low blood magnesium levels. Symptoms — which include staggering, convulsions, twitching, uncoordinated gait, coma, and even death — can occur within two to three hours, making early detection difficult. Factors such as low dietary magnesium, nutrient imbalances that interfere with magnesium metabolism, and high milk production contribute to these problems. Additionally, immature grasses have lower magnesium levels than mature forages. Cool, wet soil conditions reduce the plant’s ability to utilize the available magnesium, as do high nitrogen and potassium levels from fertilizers or manure.

Mature cows are more susceptible to grass tetany because their bodies’ ability to correct low magnesium blood levels decreases with age. Mature cows also tend to produce more milk, increasing their magnesium requirements. Those nursing calves less than two months old are often the hardest hit. Young cattle, steers, and bulls rarely get grass tetany.

The time grass tetany strikes vary depending on available moisture and temperature. It occurs most frequently in the spring, typically following rainy, cool weather (between 45 and 60 degrees) when grass is growing rapidly. It is also seen in the fall, with symptoms often seen five to 10 days after the onset of cold, wet weather.

Prevention is the best option. Tactics include grazing steers, heifers, dry cows, and cows with calves older than four months on higher-risk pastures, since those groups are less likely to develop grass tetany, and feeding hay to cattle prior to turning them out onto lush pastures for the first 10 to 14 days.

In areas where the risk is high, provide brood cattle with free-choice high-magnesium supplements to maintain adequate blood magnesium levels. Stockdale’s offers a variety of mineral mixes, supplements, and blocks to increase the level of magnesium in your cattle’s diet. Our line of premium Co-op minerals are ideal for adding this layer of protection: (#675) Foundation Hi Magnesium Cattle Mineral, (#638MA) Supreme Hi-Mag Cattle Mineral, and (96623MA) Supreme Hi-Mag IGR Cattle Mineral.

Ask your friends at Stockdale’s what might work in your particular situation. Find the Stockdale’s nearest you here!

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