8 March 1996

Staggers biggest spring killer…

GRASS staggers caused by magnesium deficiency is the most common cause of death in spring for dairy and beef cattle.

This is the claim of Somerset vet Roger Eddy who adds that faster grass is growing and the wetter it is, the lower its magnesium. High potash levels also reduce magnesium availability, so he advises not to over-apply potash fertiliser to grazing pastures.

"Cutting concentrates due to a shortage of milk quota can also increase the risk of grass staggers."

He advises offering magnesium supplements from three days before turnout for four weeks depending on weather. Consi- der high magnesium concentrate, mixing calcined-magnesite to a buffer fed silage, or adding soluble magnesium salts to water supply.

These can be metered or tipped into water troughs every day, he claims.