Kebir House Veterinary Practice Ltd Kebir House Veterinary Practice Ltd Kebir House Veterinary Practice Ltd Kebir House Veterinary Practice Ltd

Grass Staggers/Hypomagnesaemia

We have treated a few cases of grass staggers recently. This is most likely attributable to the lush spring grass, which has a low fibre content and therefore gut transit time is decreased, leaving less time for absorbtion of magnesium through the rumen wall.

Other factors that can predispose cattle to grass staggers include high levels of potassium or ammonia (from potash and nitrogenous fertilizers, respectively). 

Magnesium is a substance that cattle cannot store, therefore a constant supply is required via the diet/suppliments. Therefore anything that interferes with absorbtion of magnasium from the gut can directly predispose cattle to the condition.

Staggers is one of the few true veterinary emergencies, and without rapid treatment can soon lead to death. Signs to look out for:

- excitability with a high head carriage

- muscle twitching (especially facial)

- uncoordinated movement

- startled expression

- teeth grinding

- recumbancy with a paddling action

- seizure, shortly followed by death

 

Rapid treatment of these cases is essential. However prevention is better than cure and there are a few things that can be done to try and avoid staggers in your herd, see http://www.nadis.org.uk/bulletins/hypocalcaemia-and-hypomagnesaemia.aspx... for further info on supplimentation.