Lifting the lid on grass tetany

Janelle JenkinsPRODUCTION ADVICE - SEPTEMBER 2021 - AGRONOMY

By Janelle Jenkins
Mixed Farming Officer

M: 0427 639 947 | E: janelle.jenkins@lls.nsw.gov.au

Four black cattle on green grass, backlit by sunAs highlighted by our District Vets in August’s Production Advice, there has been a number of cattle graziers impacted by grass tetany. As discussed, grass tetany appears to be more prevalent on grass-dominated pasture, and some properties/paddocks seem to be at a greater risk than others. Soils can be contributors, such as soil with high levels of potassium and increasing fertiliser application. Adverse weather events also appear to contribute to grass tetany outbreaks.

In a preliminary pilot project, several Local Land Service areas and the NSW Department of Primary Industries are undertaking surveillance trials over the winter/spring months of July, August, September and October to help improve knowledge of conditions that may trigger grass tetany outbreaks.

The project’s aim is to better understand the condition’s contributing factors so graziers can avoid or minimise their animals’ exposure. For example, they might avoid feeding on soils/paddocks that present a greater risk of grass tetany during potential danger periods, or putting older cows in early lactation in a paddock that has a high grass content. This preliminary project is hopefully the prelude to a larger, more detailed study in the future.

In the Murray Local Land Services region, the project is monitoring two properties with a history of grass tetany outbreaks at Rosewood and Tooma. On these properties, two paddocks are being investigated - one with a known history of grass tetany outbreaks and one without. Information being collected includes soil chemistry, soil temperatures, weather conditions during the sampling period, pasture tissue sampling, pasture amount and pasture composition.

Keep a look out for the results of this project towards the end of this year. This project is being supported by funding from Murray Local Land Services and the NSW Government.

For more information, contact me on the details above.

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