In any season, it is wise to try and anticipate the animal health problems.
At this time of year, grass tetany is potentially a major problem in cattle in this part of Australia.
Since cattle with grass tetany often die suddenly, the first sign of grass tetany on your property may be a dead cow.
Naturally this is a situation you would prefer to prevent.
To establish the likelihood of grass tetany occurring on your property it is worth considering the risk factors involved.
Grass tetany is associated with immature, rapidly growing, grass dominant pastures.It is also associated 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. Plus, 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. Hence the condition’s other name - hypomagnesaemia.
Cattle’s bodies are unable to store magnesium. Therefore, to prevent grass tetany, magnesium supplementation needs to be given daily to cattle at greatest danger during periods of high risk.
Have you considered how you would supplement your herd? Some choices include Causmag treated hay, mineral licks, or magnesium capsules.
When cattle are affected clinically with grass tetany they display initial excitement, bellowing, muscle spasms, tetany and finally convulsions before dying.
Since grass tetany leads to the rapid death of cattle, treatment is an emergency, and veterinary assistance should be sought immediately. A veterinarian will give a calcium and magnesium solution intravenously.
If a veterinarian is not available, calcium and magnesium products are available that can be given under the skin. However, clinical cases of grass tetany and cattle lost to the condition are best prevented with some forward planning.