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304 North Cardinal St.
Dorchester Center, MA 02124
What Causes Grass Staggers In Sheep? Grass tetany or grass staggers occurs when blood magnesium levels fall below a critical level – hence the term hypomagnesaemia. This occurs when animals are running on pasture which has low available levels of magnesium, or as a result of increased body demands for magnesium during lactation or late pregnancy.
How do you treat sheep staggers? There are no specific treatments for RGS, and affected animals usually recover in one to two weeks if removed from affected pasture, or given additional alternative feed. Mycosorb is a powder that can be made into a drench, which binds the toxin in the rumen and helps reduce the extent of clinical signs.
How do you treat grass staggers? It is recommended that dry cows receive a diet containing 0.35 percent Mg, and lactating cows 0.28 percent Mg. There are a number of different sources of magnesium, and methods of adding these into a cow’s diet. Common methods include drenching, pasture dusting, hay slurries, through water, and as magnesium bolus.
How do sheep get staggers? Ryegrass staggers is caused by toxins that build up in ryegrass leaves due to infection by endophyte fungus. These chemicals are especially concentrated in the base of the plants, so they are more likely to be eaten when dry conditions result in a shortage of pasture.
“Avoid offering free access minerals or feed blocks high in magnesium to ewes in late pregnancy.” The excess magnesium interferes with calcium mobilisation and can cause calcium deficiency, he says. Ewes have twitchy ears and go off their legs.
Deficiency, or hypomagnesemia, is most common 4 to 6 weeks after lambing when deficient animals show very characteristic symptoms including uncoordinated walking, trembling or recumbence. Sheep have very small reserves of magnesium to buffer changes in absorption of magnesium.
Staggers is a metabolic disorder caused by low levels of blood magnesium. The stress of poor weather often makes the ewe take her lambs in to shelter, where there is limited food, resulting in a restricted intake, which leads to inadequate absorption of Magnesium.
The following progressive series of signs have been observed in cattle affected by grass tetany: (1) grazing away from the herd, (2) irritability, (3) muscular twitching in the flank, (4) wide-eyed and staring, (5) muscular incoordination, (6) staggering, (7) collapse, (8) thrashing, (9) head thrown back, (10) coma and
Calves appear to be more susceptible to ryegrass staggers than older stock. Outbreaks of Ryegrass staggers occur from late November until the end of April, but the problem is sporadic and tends to be worst from late January to early February.
It occurs when the intake of magnesium is exceeded by its output. It is common in spring due to an increased requirement of magnesium for lactation and the decreased magnesium content of lush green pasture.
Deficiency, or hypomagnesaemia, is most common 4 to 6 weeks after lambing when deficient animals show very characteristic symptoms including uncoordinated walking, trembling or recumbency. Sheep have very small reserves of magnesium to buffer changes in absorption of magnesium.
Any disorder of the brain or spinal cord, of muscle, bone or joints, resulting in incoordination and a tendency for sheep to fall or become recumbent, is referred to as ‘staggers’. This can manifest in a few individual animals or may be seen affecting a large proportion of a mob simultaneously or within a short time.
Trough treatment, pasture dusting or rumen boluses are some of the options available to ensure adequate levels of magnesium and prevent grass staggers.
swayback or enzootic ataxia of lambs. Lambs with this condition cannot coordinate their legs. They may be severely affected at birth and may be unable to stand; some may be born dead. Other lambs appear normal at birth but between one and six months they develop an uncoordinated gait.
Deficiencies of either or both selenium and vitamin E can cause weaner illthrift, reduced wool production, reduced ewe fertility, reduced immune response and white muscle disease. Selenium deficiency is more common in high rainfall areas while vitamn E deficiency occurs when sheep are on dry feed for long periods.
Prevention: Mg must be given daily to animals at risk, because the body has no readily available stores. Daily oral supplements of Mg oxide (2 oz [60 g] to cattle and ⅓ oz [10 g] to sheep) should be given in the danger period.
Where white muscle disease is an annual problem, best results are obtained by giving ewes a selenium injection one to four weeks before lambing. If white muscle disease is diagnosed in a flock, all lambs should be treated at birth. Affected lambs respond positively to injections of selenium, or selenium and vitamin E.
If sheep are grazing early growth of cereal grains or heavily fertilized pastures, provide supplemental magnesium. Feeding dry alfalfa hay to penned ewes at night aids in preventing the disease. Magnesium oxide at the rate of 0.25 ounce per head per day can be mixed with grain or provided in pelleted rations.
rapid spread of disease through a flock. animals that are lame, drooling or salivating excessively. animals that have ulcers, erosions or blisters around the feet, muzzle, udder or teats, or in the mouth. unusual nervous signs.
Sulfaquinoxaline in drinking water at 0.015% concentration for 3–5 days may be used to treat affected lambs. In groups of lambs at pasture, frequent rotation of pastures for parasite control also helps control coccidial infection.
Inflammation usually affects one side of the brain, hence why we typically see unilateral signs such as circling, excessive salivation and paralysis of the affected side. With the brain being affected, infected sheep are often inappetent, disorientated and lethargic.
(Milk fever, Hypocalcemia)
Parturient paresis in pregnant and lactating ewes and does is a disturbance of metabolism characterized by acute-onset hypocalcemia and rapid development of hyperexcitability and ataxia, progressing to depression, recumbency, coma, and death.
Etiology: Parturient paresis is caused by a decrease in calcium intake under conditions of increased calcium requirements, usually during late gestation. This results in a low serum calcium concentration, particularly in animals pregnant with multiple fetuses. Some cases are complicated by concurrent pregnancy toxemia.
Arnold concludes, “Increasing magnesium intake by supplementing with magnesium oxide, offering adequate salt to prevent sodium deficiency, and increasing total energy intake with good quality forage or supplemental feed are all effective tools in preventing grass tetany.
Cattle stagger and seem to have neurological problems. It’s often caused by springtime pastures rich in nitrogen and deficient in magnesium, or poor forage during winter months. Consult a veterinarian immediately if you suspect this problem. Cows treated quickly can recover, but if left untreated they may not.