Grass tetany (magnesium deficiency, grass staggers)




Generally known as "grass tetany," wherein a sudden change to a lush pasture, a sudden cold spree, or consumption of early young hay causes a deficiency in magnesium leading to a variety of symptoms which include "tetany" or tremors, frequently followed by death. It is more apt to appear in heavily lactating females or young on all-milk diet. Mild cases may show only stiff gait, hypersensitivity and frequent urination. May also be accompanied by calcium deficiency. Most grasses are very low in magnesium.
Staggering, excited, suddenly throw up head and run erratically, high stepping, twitching of muscles, grinding of teeth, erratic eye movements, ears erect, loud fast pulse, body temperature may be high, fall down and convulse, then die.
Magnesium and calcium injections (IV) while monitoring heartbeat. Remove from offending pasture.
Salt blocs containing increased magnesium ("Mag blocs") are available, but generally are not necessary for goats.
This is a disease that is quite common in cattle in the spring when they are suddenly turned into tall new-grown pasture; it is less common in sheep, but does occur. Rarely do goats consume enough pasture for this to be a problem; but it can happen. Therefore, acclimate them gradually to any new pasture situation.
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