Thomas Swerczek, a veterinary pathologist, cautions that free-choice loose salt isn’t a foolproof preventive of grass tetany, because cattle won’t always consume enough salt if there is excess potassium and nitrate in the diet or forages.

“It may be necessary to force-feed salt (including it in the daily feed ration) or use a salt-mineral mix very high in salt and low in other minerals. It may be necessary to add something to ensure cattle consume some each day,” he says.

Swerczek recommends a pure product like sugar, or adding the salt to a grain ration to entice cattle to consume more sodium when cattle are at risk for grass tetany.

“Stockmen must be careful that salt-mineral mixes don’t contain excessive trace minerals or toxic heavy metals. Excess salt can be eliminated by consuming adequate drinking water, but excess trace minerals or toxic metals can’t be neutralized or eliminated by drinking water,” he says.

Heather Smith Thomas is a rancher and freelance writer based in Salmon, ID.