Signs of Tetany

Unfortunately sometimes the first  sign of a problem with grass tetany is finding dead cows in your pasture. Symptoms  of tetany include cows staggering, excitability, involuntary muscle  contractions, convulsions, frothing at the mouth, and vocalization.  Tetany can strike quickly, leaving the animal  dead within hours of the onset of symptoms, making detection and treatment that  much more difficult. In the battle  against grass tetany it’s best to try to prevent it rather than treat it.

Preventing Grass Tetany

Luckily grass tetany can be  highly preventable if you follow the tips below:

Provide Magnesium Supplementation

To  avoid potential magnesium deficit issues we suggest feeding Mag-O-Min® or  other high magnesium mineral products  prior to and during tetany season. "Palatability of the mineral is crucial," explains Harry Walker,  Southern States® Feeds Sales and Technical Representative. "Cattle do not like the taste of magnesium  and will not consume a high magnesium mineral that is not palatable." High magnesium minerals should be available  to your herd 24/7 during tetany season.

Proper Location & Number of Mineral Feeders

It is very important to have an adequate  number of mineral feeders in each pasture. Walker says, "A general rule of thumb is one mineral feeder for every  25-30 cows." Not only is number of  feeders critical, so is their location.  If the mineral feeder is located too close to the pasture water source,  cattle may over consume the mineral.  Likewise if the feeder is located too far away from water, the cattle may  not consume enough. Ensure your feeder  is properly stocked at all times during tetany season. An empty mineral feeder,  even if just for a few days, is asking for a tetany problem.

Keep Offering Hay

Just because the grass is growing doesn't mean you should rely solely on pasture as a food source. Continue to offer hay so the cattle have  another food source other than new growth in the pasture. Keep hay available until they completely stop  consuming it. 

Add Variety to your Pasture

Variety is the spice of life. Did you know the risk of grass tetany decreases on pastures that contain over 30% legumes? At next seeding think about incorporating  clovers and alfalfas into your pasture mix.

Avoid High Risk Pastures

If at all possible, avoid letting your herd  graze on pastures known to be at high risk for grass tetany.

Avoid Fertilizing with Nitrogen in the spring

Nitrogen fertilization contributes to rapid plant growth which in turn  can lead to low magnesium in the plants.

Prevention is Key

As Benjamin Franklin once said, "An  ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure."  This definitely rings true when it comes to grass tetany, as it is  easier to prevent tetany than treat it.  By keeping vigilant to pasture changes you can be one step ahead of  grass tetany.