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Why magnesium is significant in your mineral program – Dr. Jennifer Young

As part of our ongoing customer service to you, we strive to keep you up to date on technical issues. Today we want to take a moment and talk about the importance of magnesium.

Early spring is when we tend to focus on magnesium because of its association with grass tetany. Magnesium is reduced while potassium is increased in fast-growing cool season grasses. Potassium has a negative effect on magnesium absorption. Cattle must consume added magnesium in order to maintain blood levels of magnesium and offset potassium. Cattle do store magnesium in bone, but these reserves are not readily available. Furthermore, cattle lose magnesium in urine, feces and milk.

Grass tetany can be referred to as lactation tetany as it occurs most often in lactating cows. We turn cows out in early spring around peak lactation in magnesium depleted pastures and a significant amount of magnesium from the cow is going into milk production. The combination leaves cows with low blood magnesium. Often hi-mag minerals are offered to combat grass tetany.

The other less talked about factor that may cause low magnesium blood level is severe, prolonged cold weather. This year we have seen a few cows on winter range with low magnesium levels which can be attributed to the weather. Although mineral containing magnesium may have been available, not all cows consume mineral unless force fed. This may have been the instance or mineral magnesium levels were not enough to overcome the stressors. One way to ensure magnesium intake is to include a mineral pack in your cake.

Magnesium is unpalatable and high levels of magnesium in minerals will decrease mineral consumption. Over the years, Farmers Ranchers settled at a level that does not decrease intake. Farmers Ranchers Hi-Mag mineral is in stock to have you ready when the grass turns green. If you are concerned about grass tetany, we recommend feeding our Hi-Mag mineral about 30 days prior to turn out to ensure adequate magnesium blood levels. We are also increasing the magnesium in all stock minerals to combat low blood magnesium in other seasons. Call us today and ask us about which mineral is right for you. Don’t forget we can customize a mineral specifically suited for your herd.