UNSEASONAL weather means metabolic disorders such as staggers are giving cause for concern, warn vets.
Penrith-based vet Chris Swift says continued poor weather puts spring-calving sucklers at risk as they normally receive no extra feed or minerals. In cold, wet weather, lactating cows need more minerals and lush grass, which passes through the rumen quickly, wont supply it, he says.
Further south, Gloucs-based vet Christopher Watson says suckler producers should be wary of weaning calves during poor weather. Weaning is a stressful time; exacerbating metabolic problems brought on by mineral deficiencies. "If in doubt, wean later," he suggests.
Dairy cattle following New Zealand-style grazing systems will also be at risk, adds Mr Watson. "Producers need to buffer feed straw to slow the passage through the rumen and increase uptake of minerals. Otherwise, 5kg/head/day brewers grains will do the same job and be a useful feed."
Alternatively, magnesium supplements are available. Soluble tablets for use in water troughs, powders or sweet licks can be used according to manufacturers instructions, say vets.