Learn about the veterinary topic of Hypomagnesemic Tetany in Cattle and Sheep . complex metabolic disturbance characterized by hypomagnesemia (plasma. The exact cause of hypomagnesemia tetany in ruminant animals is a dietary Keywords: Cattle; Grass tetany; Hypomagnesemia; Magnesium. Introduction. Hypomagnesaemia is a rare but important cause of sudden death in ruminants. Adult cattle and sheep have no effective tissue.

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The increase in disease in spring occurs because rapidly growing grasses, particularly ryegrasses, are very low in magnesium.

Make sure you know the age of all cows. The key to cost-effective prevention is to know what cows are affected and what are the underlying circumstances. This proves very difficult to achieve in grass-based forage systems. Accurate diagnosis of grass tetany by a veterinarian is important because a number of significant diseases ctatle similar signs.

Grass tetany in a herd of beef cows

No single preventive strategy is applicable to all farms. Current literature is equivocal as to the importance of magnesium concentration in the grass itself as a factor leading to grass tetany. The cow should be propped on her brisket and will frequently make attempts to stand minutes later.

Lush pastures are low in fibre and increase the rate of passage of food material through the rumen reducing time for the absorption. An increased intake of oral potassium results in a decrease in magnesium absorption from the forestomachs due to a decrease in the passive driving force hypomagneesemia magnesium uptake by the epithelium 1 — 47 — There are also differences in susceptibility between individual cows and families.


Grass tetany has a short clinical course and high fatality rate.

It might be worth considering preventing access of lactating cows to pastures associated with hypomagnesaemia at critical periods. Pasture cattls be dusted with magnesium oxide. Magnesium disorders in ruminants In Practice Start feeding the cow hay and Causmag as soon as possible after she recovers to improve magnesium absorption from the rumen.

NADIS – National Animal Disease Information Service

Increasing magnesium intake cattld supplementing with MgO, offering salt lick blocks to prevent sodium deficiency, and increasing total energy intake through the provision of adequate amounts of fermentable carbohydrates are all effective tools in preventing the risk factors for developing grass tetany 4.

Despite its vital importance, there are no specific control mechanisms for magnesium levels. Blood was collected from 2 of the same cows, and a third cow chosen at random Table 1. Animals may have to be sedated to control the tetany, and affected animals should always be handled quietly and calmly to avoid aggravating the condition. Grass tetany in cattle.

Grasses and cereal crops have lower magnesium levels than legumes eg clovers and lucerne. Treatment Rapid treatment to restore blood magnesium is essential.

Much of the material used in this Information Note was provided by Prof. Animals may appear aggressive and may progress through galloping, bellowing and then staggering.

Grass tetany in a herd of beef cows

The advice provided in this publication is intended as a source of information only. The cause is complex, involving animal, nutritional, climatic and management factors. Licks and blocks should be placed near stock camps or watering points. There may be references to previous departments, these are being updated. However, assessment of the field revealed a pond, as well as a pile of burned garbage that included paint cans and pieces of plastic and metal.


High levels of potassium application of potash fertilisers disrupt the absorption of magnesium. Even when feed levels of magnesium are low, the loss of magnesium in the milk remains the same. Consider establishing shelter belts to reduce climatic stress as part of the property management plan.

Skin, Eyes and Feet. Development Upload file Commons. Cows may appear slightly nervous, are reluctant to be milked or herded, and have depressed dry matter intake and poor milk yield.

Are soils naturally high in potassium or low in phosphorus or sodium? Intra-ruminal boluses give a slow release of relatively small amounts of magnesium into the rumen over a period of four weeks. Grass tetany has been the main cause of deaths of adult beef cows on farms in south-eastern Australia over the past 40 years.

The cow has an exaggerated response to sight, sound or touch, and may begin convulsing, with muscle spasms tetanykicking, rolling of the eye-balls, head arched back and frothing at the mouth. Low magnesium status may also interfere with calcium control. Are pastures grass-dominant in winter, containing plant species low in magnesium and high in potassium? Death may follow at any stage.