Cattle: Tetany Problems in Beef Cows
Many beef producers are utilizing cereal greenfeed and/or straw as the main forage source for their cattle. During the past couple of years an increasing number of cattle herds have exhibited tetany-like problems. It is becoming apparent that high levels of potassium & low levels of calcium may be present in many of the cereal forages used as the main roughage source for cattle. High levels of potassium and low levels of calcium in the diet can limit the absorption of magnesium, resulting in tetany problems.
Tetany and milk fever are two metabolic diseases that produce tetany-like symptoms. Symptoms include depressed appetite, reduced weight gain, nervousness, staggering, stiff gait, convulsions and paralysis usually in mature cattle. Grass tetany refers to animals that exhibit tetany-like symptoms after being turned out on lush pasture, while winter tetany refers to animals fed on winter rations that exhibit similar symptoms. Tetany is caused by hypomagnesmia, or low blood magnesium (Mg) and milk fever is caused by hypocalcemica or low blood calcium (Ca). Symptoms of both conditions are often seen in mature cows in late pregnancy (about 6 weeks before calving) or soon after calving.