UK – A wet winter and higher potassium forage levels have increased the likelihood of grass staggers.
Animal health company Rumenco has advised farmers that potassium could be more aggressive on magnesium than previously thought and that record winter rainfall has leached soil minerals.
“We can’t yet be sure how much of an effect the tremendously wet winter has had on soil mineral levels, but we do know that magnesium deficiency is always a significant threat at turnout,” said Rumenco technical manager David Thornton.
“What’s more, relatively recent research now shows just how antagonistic potassium is to magnesium – so much so that we now know that cows need an extra 18g per day of magnesium for every 1 per cent potassium in forage over and above a base level of 1 per cent .”
He added that recent mineral forage reports indicate ‘very high’ potassium levels at 2.89 per cent.
Although a perennial issue, Mr Thornton said the possibility of grass staggers is greater than ever and cows need long fibre when they return to the fields.
“This prevents low dry matter spring grass passing through the rumen too quickly without enough of an opportunity for the animal to absorb magnesium,” he explained. “In addition, consider offering a suitable salt source – this will help maintain a high sodium:potassium ratio, which will improve magnesium absorption.”
Farmers are advised to select their supplementation method with care and that a variety of magnesium sources is better than one.
He added that powder forms deliver higher magnesium absorption in the animal and mixing with molasses can ensure more magnesium enters the cows.
“Molassed, weatherproof buckets and blocks supplemented with the right source of magnesium offer the most hassle-free way of ensuring stock get the mineral they need. No troughs are needed and these types of supplements are available 24/7.
“They also prevent bullying and save feeding time and labour – and regular trips over already muddy land. Bear in mind too that magnesium is not very palatable, so being molassed, bucket and block products do help maintain the necessary intakes of this essential mineral.”
TheCattleSite News Desk
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