The Udder Side


After the new year, we are headed for calving season soon. But first, we see grass tetany. I have already had my first call. 

I have always said we need to switch to a Hi-Mag mineral at Christmas. Normally, we should be offering a 10 percent magnesium mineral this time of the year. 

I recommend feeding that higher mag mineral until May 1 at least. Then we can drop down to a 2 percent magnesium mineral until Christmas.

We must remember that fescue ties up a lot of minerals, and so does potash, which is potassium. Potassium is a highly-positively charged cation that will attract all weaker charges to it. We have a high amount of potash in our soil, and generally, we will add it to the fertilizer. 

Litter also has a high level of potash in it. This should explain why we need to add magnesium to our mineral.

Most of us know the clinical signs of grass tetany. They are generally down or at least very wobbly and want to fight. 

Unlike milk fever, where they are down and very dull, which is low blood calcium instead of magnesium. Everyone also needs to be very careful around these animals because they want to hurt you. 

I have literally been chased and/or had them trying to butt me. Please, be careful.

Now, if we run too much or too fast if we are intravenously treating them, they can die. I have even seen them get shocky from cold solution. I like my solution at least room temperature. Just think about it if someone was running ice-cold solution into your veins. Sorry, just a little of my old fashion country boy common sense.

Now, the answer may be in a bottle to save your cow, but the answer to get her totally over it is in the mineral and her mouth. Normally, they should average a quarter-pound of mineral per head per day. Now, normally cattle do not eat quarter-pound every day, but they will eat around about 1 pound per head per day for about three weeks and then maybe nothing for a few weeks. 

Then back to eating you out of house and home with feeding mineral. Therefore, I always say we need to check mineral and put out what they will eat in three days and do it twice a week, year round. Then we are not wasting any mineral or letting it get caked up and have the micro-nutrients leach out. Good luck, and may everyone have a good spring!

Dr. Tim E. O’Neill, DVM, owns Country Veterinary Service in Farmington, Ark. To contact Tim go to and click on ‘Contact Us.’


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