Grass tetany cases have started – know the early signs

Kyle Veterinary Clinic in Durrow, Co Laois, received its first call out of the year to a suspected grass tetany case today (Monday), according to staff veterinarian Rachael Hampton.

“Both dairy cows and sucklers can be equally predisposed to the problem,” she said.

“However, dairy cows tend to be fed more meal at this time of the year, thereby ensuring that they get all the Magnesium they require. Suckler cows are a different story though. Large numbers of cows and other cattle are being turned out in the Laois area at the present time.

“As a general rule of thumb we recommend that all stock receive some meal for the first few weeks after turnout, in order to ease the transition on to a diet made up primarily of grazed grass.

“Where tetany is specifically concerned, cows can be protected with a Magnesium bolus. High mag buckets and licks also have a role to play.”

Hampton explained that tetany can occur in both clinical and sub clinical forms.

“The first signs to look out for are animals standing away from the rest of their herd mates and staggering slightly. The change from warm to much cooler conditions that we have witnessed over the weekend has increased the stress levels incurred by stock. And this will predispose them to tetany.”

Turning to other animal health issues with a seasonal theme, Hampton confirmed that vets in the Kyle practice had treated a significantly higher number of pneumonia-related problems in calves this spring.

“Again, prevention is better than cure,” she said.

“We now strongly recommend the routine vaccination of calves against pneumonia. The animals get their first shot at four weeks of age with a booster offered a month later.

“If the correct procedures are followed, this should prevent young calves from succumbing to pneumonia related problems once they are turned out to pasture.”

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