Watch for grass tetany in North Dakota cattle this spring, warns Carl Dahlen, North Dakota State University Extension Service beef cattle specialist.

Cool temperatures and average-to-better-than-average rainfall have given North Dakota pastures good forage growth and warmer temps may mean more rapid growth to follow.

“With this in mind, producers with cattle on pasture or planning their spring pasture turnout need to be aware of the possibility of grass tetany,” says Dahlen.

Grass tetany, or hypomagnesia, is caused by low blood levels of magnesium. It’s most prevalent when cows and ewes in heavy lactation graze lush spring growth. Rapidly growing forages have low levels of magnesium, and levels are further reduced by high amounts of protein and potassium in the forage.

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