Learn about the veterinary topic of Hypomagnesemic Tetany in Cattle and Sheep . complex metabolic disturbance characterized by hypomagnesemia (plasma. The exact cause of hypomagnesemia tetany in ruminant animals is a dietary Keywords: Cattle; Grass tetany; Hypomagnesemia; Magnesium. Introduction. Hypomagnesaemia is a rare but important cause of sudden death in ruminants. Adult cattle and sheep have no effective tissue.

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Adult cattle and sheep have no effective tissue stores of magnesium, so lactating animals are at risk of developing a deficiency.

Hypomagnesaemia – WikiVet English

The risk is increased when they are grazing pasture, especially in Spring and Autumn when the absorption of magnesium hypoamgnesemia influenced by factors including: Magnesium requirements are influenced by production. Therefore rapidly-growing and lactating animals have a higher requirement than non-lactating slow-growing animals.

hypomagneeemia Cows in their third to fifth lactation have an increased risk of developing hypomagnesaemia due to increased production and reduced age-related mobilisation of magnesium from bone. Ruminants may survive for a few days by using residual magnesium in their soft tissues, but other than this, they cannot store magnesium effectively.

A continuous supply of magnesium in the diet is therefore essential to avoid hypomagnesaemia. Magnesium plays a critical role in neuromuscular transmission and signs include: In cases with long-standing low levels of magnesium there might be signs of nervousness and irritability, depressed appetite and production and illthrift.


Additional stress such as poor weather in winter may precipitate tetany, paresis and death. Hypocalcaemia may occur concurrently, hypomagnesrmia hypomagnesaemia influences calcium metabolism by reducing the secretion of PTH and tissue sensitivity to PTH which is important for calcium absorption.

In acute cases, history and clinical signs provide a strong basis for presumptive diagnosis and response to treatment can support the diagnosis. Given that ruminants are usually managed in large similarly-fed groups within similar production systems, there is a high risk of subclinical hypomagnesaemia in apparently unaffected individuals in a group where clinical hypomagnesaemia has occurred.

Grass tetany (Hypomagnesemia) in beef cattle

Consequently, screening other members of an affected group for evidence of low blood hhypomagnesemia of magnesium is the best method of confirming disease and investigating distribution and severity.

Animals with the acute form of the disease require urgent treatment as their condition may deteriorate rapidly and success rates decline with time from the onset of clinical signs.

Usually injections of calcium and magnesium are combined as there is often concurrent hypocalcaemia. They are given in two stages:. Animals may have to be sedated to control the tetany, and affected animals should always be handled quietly and calmly to avoid aggravating the condition.

Grass tetany in a herd of beef cows

Prevention of clinical hypomagnesaemia depends upon both reducing risk factors and ensuring daily Mg intake:. Avoid the use of potassium-containing fertilisers including slurry at critical periods, especially when grass is growing rapidly in the spring.


Add magnesium to the feed of at-risk animals at times of greatest risk. Supplements should be mixed with the diet and provided so that every individual receives the necessary dose. It might be worth considering preventing access of lactating cows to pastures associated with hypomagnesaemia at critical periods.

For low risk pastures it might be sufficient to supplement hay to animals following turnout.

Grass tetany in a herd of beef cows

Feed concentrates supplemented with magnesium to cows in the parlour and to ewes for 4 to 6 weeks after lambing. Magnesium disorders in ruminants In Practice Retrieved from hypomagnesemoa https: Navigation menu Personal tools Views Read View source View history. Development Upload file Commons. This page was last modified on 15 Octoberat This hypomagneseia has been accessed 14, times. This article has been peer reviewed but is awaiting expert review. If you would like to help with this, please see more information about expert reviewing.