Symptoms of grass tetany 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 cow’s 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 supplemental magnesium to your cattle. To be on the safe side, some producers make this available year-around 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 since most cases occur in the February through April time period. If you have questions or need more information, call the Walker County Extension Office at 638-2548 or visit our office at 102 E. Napier Street in LaFayette.
Norman Edwards is coordinator of Walker County Extension Service.